This weekend, the Brazos Valley Fair and Rodeo came to town. Seizing this unique opportunity to visit this quintessentially American phenomenon, we made our way to the exhibition field 5 minutes out of town.
As we arrived, we did not know what to expect apart from what we had seen on TV. We went in to see families out in their matching cowboy hats and boots, enjoying themselves amongst the stalls which ranged from hunting equipment to personalised leather goods.
We went out to the massive courtyard and went to watch a dog show. These were professionally trained stray dogs which now compete in competitions. One dog even manage to jump 26ft into a pool! We wondered around and got some food and fresh lemonade from one of the large colourful stalls scattered across the fair. We sat down to watch a group from the university perform some music while we ate. After lunch, we went to watch a pig race in which all of the pigs names were puns, some of which included, ‘Hillary Rod-HAM Clinton’ and ‘Ba-Rack of Ribs Obama’.
Then came the main event. Everyone went into the large arena to watch the rodeo itself. Even though fairs and rodeos are fading out across America, they are still going strong in Texas and the south – a fact we were reminded off a few times – and this was one of the ones which followed the origin format. We got to see some roping, steer wrestling and bronco and bull riding all punctuated with breaks where a clown came to perform and get some adults to make fools of themselves in the pit. The crowd cheered as the riders competed to move onto the next round. Eventually, the came to the last event where the clown climbed into a barrel and a bull was released into the grounds. I didn’t quite understand the point of this but the horses came out to do a lap and this signalled the end.
I can honestly say it was one of the strangest and most confusing experiences I’ve had in my life. I did enjoy myself though and it was a nice to get off campus for the afternoon and forget about work.