Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yippee ki yay, motherf***kers! (Or how to enjoy Texas stereotypes)

I've lived in Texas my entire life, always within 100 miles of Houston. I listen to some country music and have ridden a horse a couple of times a few decades ago but I don't have big hair like the TV show Dallas circa 1983 or own a gun. In fact, I've never even shot a gun, so I'm not exactly what you'd call a country girl. But I absolutely love the BBQ Cookoff weekend that precedes the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

If you've stumbled upon this blog from somewhere other than stalking me personally, then you probably know very little about HLSR. It's basically a rodeo competition (bull riding, roping, barrel racing, etc) mixed with a carnival, art show, livestock show, craft fair, concerts and food. Lots and lots of food (turkey leg or deep fried Oreo anyone?). The rodeo is a huge three-week event in Houston and the main goal is to raise money for college scholarships. More than 24,000 people volunteer throughout the year to help facilitate the whole thing. (I was one of those 24,000 the past few years but I just couldn't swing it this year with work being so crazy and me being such a lazy ass. The first show is tonight and I know I'll miss a good time.)

The Friday before the rodeo starts is Go Texan Day and everyone in Houston is encouraged to dress up in their cowboy and cowgirl best. Now, prior to the being on the committee, I didn't own any western wear at all. I bought some boots and wear them with a pair of jeans and a button down. These boots are the most expensive shoes I own, by a long shot. But when you have to be on your feet for hours, you need something that's comfy. I always dress up for Go Texan Day because it's the only day of the year where I can wear jeans to work.

Anyway, the weekend before the rodeo starts is the World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (referred to as "cookoff" by all the cool people) and it's basically a giant party. It's open to the public but really the only way to go is if you have access to a private party, which are held in giant tents. My awesome friend/Super Woman ReneĆ© is a sponsor for one of the cooking teams and a few years ago she invited all of us internet nerds to go with her. We pay a small fee and it includes all of the food and drinks we can handle in that tent. All of the money raised helps with scholarships so I like to call it "drinking for charity." ReneĆ© lives close to Reliant so several girls and I spend the weekend at her house. It's an insane amount of fun.

The cookoff is what I assume most people think Texas is like. I've never lived outside of Texas but I have come across many people that are from other states and countries in my 32 years and it's kind of funny to hear their ideas of what they expected Texas to be like. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, so no, we don't ride horses to work and school. Texas is a huge, diverse state so there are more "country" areas than Houston of course but it's still a very modern place.

Cookoff weekend is stereotypically Texas though. This year, a record-breaking 244,184 people were at the cookoff Thursday-Saturday wearing their cowboy hats, boots, giant belt buckles, turquoise jewelry and jeans. There is tons of yummy bbq to eat and beer and liquor to drink. And there is people watching galore. It is amazing what people will wear and what they will do after a couple of ribs and a few Miller Lites.

On Saturday we walked out to the public stage where they have concerts to see Cory Morrow (who should never, ever rap) and there were several girls wearing late 1980s style denim dresses. No ma'am! And then there were the bumpits .
Bump, bump, bump it up!

There is also ample opportunity to drink too much and act silly. Luckily for me I wasn't on designated driver duty. This picture is from Saturday night. The tent we were in ran out of beer. So, I'm drinking bourbon and vodka (not mixed together but with water in each. Our friend Kristen drove down from Ft. Worth this year to go with us and she at one point decided she didn't want to hold two cups, so she poured the bourbon and water into the vodka and water. She said on Sunday that was a bad idea. No shit?)  I added a retro theme to this picture to cover up the fact that I'm swearing profusely. The last few years it has been freezing-ass cold during cookoff weekend. This year the weather was awesome but it was humid like only Houston can do humid.
Bottoms up, bottoms up!
If you ever have the opportunity to go to the cookoff, DO IT! And make sure to wear comfy shoes, take a camera (I took like 3 pictures with my iphone. I'm not a good cameraman. The other girls took some pictures but haven't sent them/posted them on Facebook yet) and be prepared to wash your hair 30 times to get rid of the BBQ smoke smell. After washing my hair three times, it still smells like a mixture of smoke and coconut shampoo.


  1. I don't remember how I got here, and I haven't been drinking.
    Maybe The Bloggess. I didn't grow up in Houston, but I lived there from 1982 to 2005, and I miss it a lot. A LOT. Thanks for reminding me of the HLSR. I used to go over to Highway 90 (OST) and photograph some of the trail riders coming in to town. I never did make it to the cookoff though, I didn't have your connections! Now I've got to go dig for old photos. And my boots.

  2. I love the trail riders. It's hilarious to be driving down a major interstate and have to stop because 50 people on horses are also on the freeway!