Soon after I moved to Houston, I realized how amazing the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is. Almost 2 million people visit it each year. At first, we just took our infant to see the animals at the Livestock Show. Then, we gradually started attending more events each year as we wanted to see various elements of the rodeo.
With the kids growing up, we kept discovering new things to enjoy. Last year only, we visited the rodeo six times. We attended the BBQ Competition, field trips, and concerts. We’ve already bought tickets for three concerts this year, but I am certain that is just the beginning.
If you are a rodeo newbie, don’t worry. I have some pieces of advice and tricks that will help your visit go smoothly.
#1. Pre-Sale Discounts and Season Passes
There’s a window when you can buy carnival food cards and half-price carnival packs on the Internet. If your kids are more than 36 inches tall, they can go on the rides, and this is the best way to buy tickets. By buying pre-sale packs, you will save a lot of money on games. Furthermore, if you are left with some unused tickets, you can easily sell them on certain local trading sites.
When it comes to concert tickets, your ticket works as admission into all rodeo events. However, if you plan to visit multiple times without actually going to concerts, think about buying a season pass ($35). Otherwise, prepare to pay $15 per adult for general admission and $5 for kids.
#2. Avoid Spring Break – Get There Early
This is the most important tip I can give you – just get there early. We try to be there as soon as everything opens. It’s really good to get there before all of the school trips arrive. The gates are open by 8 AM, the Kid Country by 9 AM, and The Fun on the Farm by 10 AM. Also, The Carnival is closed early in the morning, so you won’t have your kids asking questions about it all the time. When you get there early, you can have many activities all to yourself. If you can avoid Spring Break (March 12-16), I advise you to do it.
#3. Try Mutton Bustin’ – Only for the Bravest
Watching a small child hanging on to a sheep, hoping to win a belt buckle, is a unique experience indeed. I was both shocked and confused the first time I saw it, but our own daughter tried it out and won her first ribbon.
In order for a child to try this eccentric sport, they have to be 5 or 6 and weigh less than 55 pounds. Unfortunately, registration for this year has already closed, so don’t forget to register early for next year.
Still, there’s another option. You can take part in mutton bustin’ at The Kid Country. You can sign up on the day, in person, and pay $15 per rider. Also, you can buy a DVD. To make sure that kids are under the limit, they always weigh them. In order to ride, kids have to wear pants and shoes with closed toes. A protective vest and a helmet with a safety mask are provided.
Parents have to sign a heck of a waiver. Lines can get pretty long, so getting there early is always a good idea. If you don’t want to wait in line, sign up for a time slot and come back later. If your kids are too young or too old for the activity, you can always enjoy watching.
#4. You Should Definitely Bring Your Strollers
Not only are they allowed, but also necessary, since you will be walking a lot at the rodeo. For those attending concerts, there are stroller checks at the stadium. If you get lucky, they might let you watch from the handicap area with the stroller.
#5. Special Needs Kids Can Also Have Fun
Kids with any kind of special needs can have fun at the Lil’ Rustlers Rodeo (March 6-8 at 5 PM). Playful stick horse races, hay barrels resembling steers, and seesaws turned into bulls are kids’ favorites. Schools and agencies organize group visits, so ask a support association or your kid’s teacher if they are planning to visit.
#6. Afternoon Concerts – Do Make an Appearance
Weeknight concerts start pretty late, and you normally can’t leave before 10:30 PM. On weekends, they start at 3:45 PM and finish around 8 PM, which is a great fit for elementary school students.
Furthermore, tickets are pretty cheap, starting at $18. All rodeo artists stick to family guidelines, so don’t worry about inappropriate content. Beware, there’s a lot of dust and fireworks in the arena; allergies could be triggered. Also, it can get very loud.
There is a wide variety of food all over the rodeo. However, if you wish to save money, you can bring your own food and drinks. The only place where you can’t bring your own food is the stadium.
#8. Take the MetroRAIL or Park & Ride bus
Our family always uses the MetroRail for the rodeo. The Red Line Stadium Park/Astrodome stops literally at the entrance gate, which is so convenient. Also, a number of Park & Ride locations are at your disposal. They usually run in the evenings to help with concert traffic. Prices vary, but you will pay $5-$10 per person. You can drive as well, but parking lots located on the other side of 610 will cost you $20-$30.
#9. Value Wednesdays
Kids 12 and under can enter for free on Value Wednesdays. Games, rides, and some food are just $2 from 11 AM to 4 PM. These days can be busier, so remember to get there early.
#10. Buy Your Gear Elsewhere
Although they offer every kind of rodeo gear there is, we deal with our kids’ outfits ahead of time. That way, our kids can’t ask for things, as they already have them. You can find great stuff on trading sites.
#11. A Date Night at the Rodeo
You can spend a lot of great date nights at the rodeo. There are many invite-only events at the BBQ Competition, so make sure to go if you get invited. Many competition tents require a pass from the tent sponsors. All tents have amazing food, drinks, and entertainment. Also, if you like live entertainment, make sure to visit the Wine Garden. For dancing, check out The Hideout.
#12. The Rodeo Houston App
Finally, make the most of the rodeo by using their app to buy tickets, see the daily schedule, find meet & greet locations, get parking info, and more. You can also use some fun filters to share your photos on social media.
See also: 9 Houston Farmers Markets to Visit
* Prices are subject to change | source: mommynearest.com