I know you know that because you live in the Houston area and it is impossible to miss all of the rodeo talk, hype, and other assorted publicity. Even if the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo isn’t your thing, you are aware it’s going on. Our schoolchildren have done rodeo art. The kids in 4-H and FFA are hyperactively busy. Lots of people are talking about the concert lineup and buying tickets. People you don’t normally see sporting cowboy hats and boots suddenly look Urban Cowboy chic. The biggest clue, however, is the air in Houston smells like barbecue.
On Monday I had the opportunity to return as a Gold Buckle Foodie judge. That’s where RodeoHouston brings a lot of media types into a room and presents us with samples of fair fare. We get to judge things in all kinds of cool categories – most of which involve deep frying and impalement on a stick. This is my third year as a foodie judge and I gotta tell ya, the food vendors at the fair are trying harder than ever to get you to fork over your hard-earned cash. If you go, bring a hearty appetite and a fat wallet. You’re gonna need it!
Let me cut to the chase for you. If you like pizza, you absolutely must have Swain’s Fine Food’s pizza on a stick. It was the best thing I’ve sampled in three years of doing this. There were even fights for the leftovers. On the sweet side, you’ve got to try Stubby’s cinnamon rolls. Soft and slightly chewy they’re some of the best I’ve ever had, especially swimming in pools of hot frosting.
(At the time of this writing the winners had not been announced, but I will add them online.)
Fair warning – there was something served, and I don’t know what it was called, but there were lots of fruits and candies poking out of a hollowed-out pineapple. It looked amazing, but the pepper sauce was awful and soured the taste.
When it comes to the HLSR, my favorite part is the rodeo. I’m not a big fan of most of the musical acts they’ve brought in the last few years, including this year – with the exception of Garth Brooks. I fancy myself a pretty good sports photographer and some of my favorite sports photos over the years are from the rodeo. My favorite events are barebacks, bulls, and barrels. I’m looking forward to shooting a lot more rodeo in the weeks to come.
It’s also fun to stroll through the commercial exhibits. I rarely buy anything, but this year I’m in the market for a new hat and boots. This might be a good opportunity to do a little bargain hunting.
The carnival is also a big draw. One of these days I’m going to take a shot at the bungee jump. The other rides are fine for most people, but I like my thrill rides to be a little more exhilarating than a rollercoaster or Tilt-a-Whirl.
Although not much of a spectator sport, the livestock judging is a really big deal for a lot of youngsters. These kids work very hard to prepare their animals and for many of them this is their big payday. The discipline and work it takes to raise farm animals gives these kids a lot of courage and character. I really admire them for their efforts.
Overall, it is a rite of passage to for those of us in the greater Houston area to go to the big show at least once or twice a season. So what are you waiting for? Grab your boots and cowboy hat and head on over to NRG Park. I hope to see you there!
HLSR Gold Buckle Foodie Awards 2018 WINNERS
Best Specialty Food: (Out of 8)
1st: All of Us (E12107) – Chocolate Cobbler
2nd: The Great White (LSM 140) – White Chocolate Cheesecake
3rd: DGZ Chocolates (B5049-5050) – Toffarazzi (Toffee)
Classic Fair Food: (Out of 13)
1st: Biggy’s (RCS Carnival) – Spicy Turkey Leg
2nd: Stubby’s Cinnamon Rolls (L0259) – Cinnamon Roll with Icing
3rd: Aunt Edmoes Cookies (CD205) – Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
Best Value: (Out of 8)
1st: Yoakum Packing (L0256) – Bacon Blast Croissant ($9.00)
2nd: Saltgrass Steakhouse (L0063) – Chicken & Ribs ($12.00)
3rd: Ranch House Meat Co (RP 110) – Bar-B-Q Plate ($21.75)
Best Food-on-a-Stick: (Out of 14)
1st: Sudie’s Catfish House (RP95) – Fried Bread Pudding On a Stick
2nd: Swains Pizza On a Stick (KC 504) – Pizza On A Stick
3rd: Burton Sausage (L75) – Chicken & Sausage Kabob
Best Fried Food: (Out of 10)
1st: The Original Minneapple Pie (CD202) – Minnepumpkin Pie
2nd: Aunt Edmoes Cookies (CD 205) – Deep Fried Cookie Dough On A Stick
3rd: Burton Sausage (L75) – Foot Long Corn Dog
Most Creative Food: (Out of 10)
1st: Fried What! (J302) – Fried Bacon-Wrapped Cinnamon Rolls or Fried Cinnamon Rolls (no bacon)
2nd: Cadillac Bar (RP85) – Carnitas Guadalajara Mexican Bowl
3rd: Ranch House Meat Co (RP 110) – Fat Max (3 Meat Sandwich) – Beef Sliced, Pulled Pork, Sausage
Best New Flavor: (Out of 14)
1st: Harlon’s BBQ (J508) – Harlon’s Stuffed Turkey Leg
2nd: Sills Funnel Cakes (RP120) – Fried Cheesecake Balls
3rd: The Original Minneapple Pie (CD202) – The Ultimate Minneapple Pie
Best Dessert: (Out of 11)
1st: Fried What! (J302)- Buckeye Sundae
2nd: Aunt Edmoes Cookies (CD 205) – Cookie Dough Parfait
3rd: The Original Minneapple Pie (CD202) – Minnechocolate Pie