By DJ Ramirez |

October comes around once a year folks and with it the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo, a staple of Central Texas for the past 66 years.

Although there are other events such as the livestock show and weekend concerts, the rodeo takes center stage. The H.O.T. Fair & Rodeo committee and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association host the All American ProRodeo Series Finals, presented by Pendleton Whisky, where the top 30 contestants in each event compete for prize money that ranges to more than $500,000. Competitors are required to compete in at least 30 All American Series Rodeos held across the country, and in Canada, to qualify for the finals in Waco.

Rodeos still make up a large part of Texas culture. Every season is rodeo season, and it’s not difficult to find rodeos being hosted in small towns or even large cities across the state. So, for the last day of H.O.T Fair & Rodeo, here’s a brief guide to rodeo culture.

Rodeo History

In Mexico, the original rodeos were cattle roundups, which then evolved into competitions for cowboys to blow off steam when they got off work at the ranch. Some of the earliest American rodeos can be traced back to Texas as far back as the one held in Pecos, Texas on the Fourth of July during the 1880s.

Unlike the first rodeos where cowboys gathered to show off their roundup skills, modern rodeos are flashy affairs that can prove to be a bit of a gamble for the modern cowboy. Competitors have to pay an entry fee to enter the rodeo, and if they don’t place high enough to win prize money, they lose profit. Many professional cowboys are also known to work other jobs to keep up with competition expenses according to the PRCA website

Rodeo 101

There are two types of rodeo events that take place: rough stock and timed events. Roughstock events include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding and bull riding. The cowboy’s score depends just as much on his performance as it does on the performance of the animal. A cowboy has to remain on his horse, or the bull, for a total of eight seconds and is only allowed to hold on with one hand. If he touches the animal or himself during the ride, he is immediately disqualified.

Steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and barrel racing are categorized as timed events in which the competitors have to race against the clock. Barrel racing is the only event in with all female competitors.

For more in-depth descriptions of the events at the rodeo, you can check out the PRCA website here.

The rodeo is a one of a kind experience. It’s exciting and entertaining and one of my favorite things about Texas. If you have never been to the rodeo, what are you waiting for? Grab a cowboy hat, buckle up and pull on some boots y’all. The Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo ends on Oct. 13.

Sources:

Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo website

Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association

Texas Monthly: Thompson, Helen, “On The Rodeo,” Texas Monthly.