Go Texan Day and the Houston Rodeo

It’s nearly rodeo time! This is an all-Houston event, with something for the face-lifted, breast-swollen glitterati, the paunchy turkey-leg eaters, and the calf-scrambling yessir-saying kids. It begins with a trail ride into town, a most improbable parade of horses, wagons, carts, and just about anything else you can imagine. For the children and salary workers alike it begins with Go Texan Day, Friday 25 February this year of 2011. On this day the kids dress like cowboys. Everyone gets out their cowboy boots, their tightest blue jeans, their plaid shirts with the pearly snap buttons, their red bandanas or string ties, and their cowboy hats. The country music reaches nooks and crannies it wouldn’t be heard at any other time of year.

Go Texan Day may be a near-holiday that can make people most feel like foreigners to this confused, self-proud state, only properly ever explained by Molly Ivins and others at the Texas Observer. But we manage to find the little shirts, and adorable little boots, and the hats because they are everywhere to be bought. Our little native-born Texans fit easily in.

Most memorable was the rodeo our teenage daughter rode in quite a few years ago. She didn’t ride a bucking bronco, just a lovely horse in the entry parade, and all the screens around the astrodome focused on her.

Here’s a quick guide to the rodeo. First, skip the rodeo unless you like the music. I’ve been a number of times in the past, invited to Rice Day. We go to some kind of club high up in Reliant Center, eat far too much food, trying to find something really good, and watch the tiny rodeo from way up there. Don’t bother. All the fun is at the livestock show. There you can wander around, and most of all admire and wonder about the children. Some have raised animals. Others have learned to chase pigs, or rope calves. Most come from deeper in the country, and speak with accents no longer heard in Houston or Austin. Plan your day around the livestock show events. These little kids capture the rodeo spirit far better than the professionals. The carnival outside is also great for people watching, hoi polloi, as my father would say and seek out on the 4th of July.

I didn’t get invited to Rice Day this year. Maybe they figured out I was no longer department chair. But I’ll go to the livestock show and wander around admiring everything, look for the calf scramble, or the dog herding. I’ll probably skip that turkey leg and funnel cone. And no, I don’t have a pearly button shirt. I don’t have cowboy boots or a cowboy hat. But I do have jeans and a bandana.


It began in preschool, with darling little Anna posed on a saddle. Maybe mommy forgot that it was Go Texan Day, and some teacher just tied the bandana on?


My two oldest adorable children, Anna and Danny, all set for Go Texan Day. They must have been about 4 and 7 years old. Notice the nice cowboy boots! Those are not cowboy hats, instead nice straw hats for field work.


My beautiful daughter, Anna, getting ready to ride in the rodeo parade.



About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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One Response to Go Texan Day and the Houston Rodeo

  1. Anna says:

    Wow. I feel famous.
    You almost got it all right Mom. Girls wouldn’t ride broncs or bulls. They would barrel race. Rodeos are very gendered places. I rode in that opening parade in amazing style – a Texas Tuxedo…I had to shop thrift stores far and wide to find the proper get-up…but I found it. I think I was missing the cumberbund but I wore a fitted tux jacket buttoned up so no one could tell…the boots were my bonafide Justin lacers though. also, that’s me in preschool at Kiddie Wonderland. There is an actual horse beneath that saddle (see the hair)? I don’t know how you did it, but I was born to ride…just not broncs or barrel racers…

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