We were up pretty early since we needed to have breakfast ready before Marek left for work. Liz took charge of the hash browns and tofurkey sausages, while I sorted out eggs, English muffins, beans and bacon. We managed to get it all ready at about the same time and we all sat round the table to eat. There was so much food, but it was good, and amazing to have real Heinz baked beans. The girls enjoyed it, although they were both a little sceptical about the wonders of Irn Bru. After cleaning up after our cooking escapades, and doing some of their dishes as we went (and gaining major brownie points!) we took turns to shower and to spend some time on the laptop. After getting some advice from Brittany on where we could park for free, we headed out to what claims to be the Largest Rodeo in the world. Parking was easy and we somewhat cheekily caught the free tram from the car park to the main entrance. After a brief queue to purchase our tickets we headed into the carnival. We wandered around the carnival for a while, went on one ride (they were quite expensive), which gave us a fantastic view of the whole place, before investigating our lunch options.

Rodeo!

To be honest, being Texas and a rodeo, Liz was very limited, but managed to track down a veggie burrito. After lunch we headed into one of the arenas to wander around the hundreds of stalls selling everything from cowboy boots and hats through to garden furniture and tractors. We also sat and watched some of the livestock classes being watched before headed for the cowboy poetry display. This was a bit disappointing, while the songs and rope tricks were cool, we only heard one poem. Once this was over it was time to join the huge crowds streaming towards the arena to find our seats. After climbing right to the top of the entry ramp, we climbed another set of stairs to find our “nosebleed” seats. We were quite surprised to still have a great view of the ring, and giant screens showed us the camera footage. After the introduction, the singing of the national anthem and an indoor firework display the first event, Calf Roping, got underway. We did not quite know what to expect, so were understandably a little shocked when the cowboy roped the calf, hauling it off its feet, jumped off his horse, slammed the calf to the ground and tied its feet together, all in less than 10 seconds. We looked at each other in horror, but as the event went on, saw that it did not seem to bother the calves at all, since once released they happily trotted over to the arena exit. We watched a wide variety of events, before I went for a wander in search of a hot drink (it was pretty cold up where we were sitting). I got stuck down in one of the lower levels for ages, but did get to pose with a guitar shaped like Texas while waiting for the elevator. I returned just in time for the calf scramble, a hilarious event where about 15 calves are released into the arena and about 25 local students have to catch one, rope it and get it back into the square at the centre of the arena. The first one to do so gets a scholarship and anyone who manages to catch a calf gets to keep it. It was so funny to watch, especially in the later stages where they send out the rodeo clowns to help catch any remaining calves. By far the funniest event however is Mutton Busting, designed for 5 and 6 year old competitors, where they are placed on a sheep and have to hang on for as long as possible. It was so funny, but the best bit was when the presenter was talking to the tiny 5 year old girl who stayed on for the longest. She was too shy to talk into the microphone, so whispered all her answers into the presenter’s ear, and when asked if she had practiced at all, revealed that she had practiced on her dad, which had the entire audience in fits of laughter. While this was underway, they had been setting up the stage for the concert. The performer for the night was Alan Jackson, who is apparently pretty famous but neither of us had heard of him.

The stage... or a spaceship, you choose.

He was really good and it wasn’t until he played “5 o’clock somewhere” that we realised that we did know who he was… Fail! In a bid to miss the worst of the traffic, we left before the concert had finished and caught the tram back to the car park, since we had no idea how to get back there on foot. We managed to get back to Brittany’s without hitting any traffic which was great. It was pretty late by the time we got back, so after some ice cream we headed to bed.

 

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