10 things we love about the Fair & Rodeo
Each year, thousands of people return to the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo for the livestock shows, rodeo action, cook-offs and entertainment.
The event, which inspires excitement and nostalgia and brings out the Texans in all of us, began in 1938 in Arcadia, which is now a neighborhood in Santa Fe. It moved to Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock in 1984, but the regulars kept coming back.
“I was born and raised in it,” Fair President Paul Tibaldo said. “I enjoy the whole thing. It’s a fun family time.”
Here are 10 things we love about the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo, which is April 21-29.
1. Mutton bustin’
Small children mount sheep and try to stay on as long as possible, pulling their legs in and holding on tight to clumps of wool. Participants in mutton bustin’ are ages 3 to 7. The top 10 busters compete in a final event April 22.
2. Live music
For many, the live music is a big draw and performers include country, Tejano and rock bands. This year’s lineup includes Roger Creager, Joe Diffie, Hometown Boys, Bag of Donuts, Cory Morrow and Rick Trevino.
But there’s also the talent shows, in which children compete. A tractor pull, a science show and a juggling act also are all part of the entertainment, Tibaldo said.
3. Lure of livestock
Kids in 4-H and Future Farmers of America show cattle, goats, lambs and rabbits they raised during the year.
“I like to show broilers,” Rebekah Clark said.
She’s been showing chickens for eight years, but has participated in the fair and rodeo for 13 years.
4. Tiny Mr. Cowboy and Miss Cowgirl
People of all ages participate in the rodeo.
Children ages 3 to 5 compete for cuteness. It’s something volunteer Haley Tucker likes to watch each year.
“The fair is not just for one age,” Tucker said.
There’s also a baby cowboy and cowgirl competition as well as several other age categories. High school students vie to become the Fair King and Queen.
5. Fair food
Corn dogs, Frito pies and cotton candy are fair staples. Each year, food trucks offer new protein-on-a-stick options. And each year, attendees seek out their old favorites.
“I like chocolate-covered cheesecake,” Tibaldo said.
6. Carnival rides
A mobile amusement park with a Ferris wheel and thrill rides lights up the night sky. Spinning is a common denominator from a merry-go-round to a large, revolving mechanism guaranteed to challenge your inner-ear guidance.
7. Steer wrestling
It’s edge-of-your-seat excitement. A rider on a horse chases a steer, manages to get on the steer from the horse, grabbing the steer’s horns and pulling the animal off balance.
The rodeo also offers bull riding and American freestyle bull-fighting events.
Eight women ride sidesaddle as they perform precision moves on their horses in an event called Escaramuza, which means skirmish in Spanish but looks as smooth as synchronized swimming. The women, ages 13 to 50, perform the act wearing charro hats and traditional flouncy dresses associated with the Mexican Revolution.
“The hardest part is to get on the horse with the dress,” said Melissa Guzman, a member of Escaramuza Las Arrieras based in Katy.
Her team will perform at the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo.
Escaramuza Las Arrieras competes with other Escaramuza teams to make it to state and national finals. Some teams even get a chance to go to Mexico.
“That’s the dream,” Guzman said.
9. Where there’s smoke
In Texas, it’s pretty much impossible to have a rodeo without a cook-off. And the culinary competitions are serious at the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo, which features a seafood cook-off, a barbecue cook-off and a chicken wings cook-off.
10. Happy reunions
“I really like to get to see people you don’t get to see other times of the year,” said Melondy D. Bender, who is the fair coordinator. “A lot of different family reunions are going on, but it’s fair families.”
Many people come back every year for the community.
“It’s not Christmas that’s the most wonderful time of the year,” volunteer Haley Tucker said. “It’s the fair.”