Houston, We Have a Rodeo

There are literally thousands of reasons that millions of people pile into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo each year. There are the big name concerts that bring the likes of Brad Paisley, Usher, Maroon 5 (Adam Levine!), Keith Urban and Blake Shelton to play to sold out shows (did I mention Adam Levine?). There is the actual rodeo where good looking cowboys and cowgirls rope, race and ride their way to the top of the BP Super Series (think barrel racing, bareback riding, steer wrestling, ). There are the livestock shows that brings thousands of Texas 4-H and FFA students between 9 and 18 to compete at the world’s largest livestock show and the subsequent livestock auctions that bring in millions of dollars in scholarship monies. Think poultry and pigs to school art, lambs and steer, all hoping to win the title of “Grand Champion”. There are hundreds of exhibitors selling every kind of Western item you could ever want or imagine. There is the Carnival and the Parade1 and a livestock birthing center in Agventure. There is so much to see and do during the three weeks each year in which Houstonians turn our city into the beer-swilling, cowboy hat and boots-wearing, two-step dancing it truly is at heart. Let’s be honest, though: the real reason we all brave the pocket-emptying parking lots and bipolar Spring weather is, of course, the food.

The cowboys aren’t the only winners during rodeo. The Gold Buckle Foodie Awards have celebrated the best of Rodeo Houston’s food for the last six years. Local micro-celebrities are invited to judge the Top 8 best of the best of the fair food where they impart their food wisdom for the benefit of all the Carnival-goers. This year’s “Best of the Best” in each of eight categories were:

     Best Breakfast: Big stone breakfast sandwich from Stubby’s Cinnamon Roll

     Best Value Food: Barbecue baked potato from Triple J’s Smokehouse (for a mere $13)

     Best Classic Fair Food: Pulled pork stuffed baked potato from Saltgrass Steakhouse

     Best Food on a Stick: Grilled chicken kabob from Saltgrass Steakhouse

     Best Fried Food: Fried pie from Kettle Corn

     Most Creative Food: Frosty bite lemon cream cupcake from Custom Confections

     Best New Taste: Cinnamon roll pancakes from Stubby’s Cinnamon Roll

     Best Dessert: Cookie dough parfait from Aunt Edmoe’s

This year, rodeo organizers introduced the genius “I Ate All Eight” — a program where, depending on the number of “Best” foods eaten, the person receives a button (two stamps); a koozie (five stamps); or a t-shirt (all eight!). Sadly, I managed to eat eight foods at this year’s rodeo, but only one from the “Best of” list. Plus, there were two things not on any list, but that sure should be: Fried Peeps (!) from Fried What? and the Fried Pickle Dog from Get Pickled. I guess there’s always next year.

So what did I eat or want to eat? Prepare your eyes and palate for the goodness!

 

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Frozen cookie dough on a stick dipped in chocolate and rolled in pecans from Aunt Edmoe’s! #sogood

 

Vanilla Bean Frosty Bite -- a cupcake stuffed with vanilla ice cream. Yes, it's true.

Vanilla Bean Frosty Bite from Custom Creations — a cupcake stuffed with vanilla ice cream. Yes, this exists.

 

Cinnamon Roll from Stubby's.

Cinnamon Roll from Stubby’s. It was DELICIOUS! Except for the pecans because they were pecan bits and got stuck in my teeth.

Crawfish Etouffee from Cajun Unlimited. I later read they showed up on the "food infractions" list from the City for food at the wrong temp. That's what it tasted like, too.

Crawfish Etouffee from Cajun Unlimited. I later read they showed up on the “food infractions” list from the City for food at the wrong temp. That’s what it tasted like, too.

The Gold Buckle Foodie Dessert winning Cookie Dough Parfait from Aunt Edmoe's. I'm unable to articulate how excellent this was -- unable!

The Gold Buckle Foodie Dessert winning Cookie Dough Parfait from Aunt Edmoe’s. I do not have the words to articulate how excellent tasted!

I didn't eat these Cookie Slabs, but can I get an "Oh My Gosh" about this?!

I didn’t eat these Cookie Slabs from Aunt Edmoe’s, but can I get an “Oh My Gosh” about this?!

Curly Fry Loaf that we paired with the Bacon-topped Jalapeno Burger from Holmes Steakhouse.

Curly Fry Loaf that we paired with the Bacon-topped Jalapeno Burger from Holmes Steakhouse.

The obligatory turkey leg. Because it's the rodeo and you just have to go for it.

The obligatory turkey leg. Because it’s the rodeo and you just have to go for it.

Now that I’m looking back at this, it appears that I ate nothing but sweets for three weeks. No one would argue I have a sweet tooth, but I also ate a Corn Dog from Fletcher’s and a Corn on a Stick. My waist line is more than thankful rodeo does not start again for another 320 days and now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hit the gym.

 

1Full disclosure: I’m a member of the HLSR Parade Committee. And it’s the best damn committee in the whole damn rodeo if you ask me.

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Food on a Stick

There’s just nothing better than food on a stick. It’s portable, doesn’t require utensils and, if you’re at a fair of any kind, likely fried. What other food group can beat that with a stick1? As I chowed down on my first and only corn dog I’ve had in my entire life, my dining partner snapped a photo to preserve the moment for all of eternity. And wouldn’t you know? The girl behind me went all McKayla Maroney and was clearly not impressed. Proof that a picture really is worth a thousand words.

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1See what I did there?