San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo
The Rodeo and livestock show is one of San Antonio's largest annual events. This PRCA circuit rodeo begins in February and runs for several weeks. Some of the finest rodeo cowboys in the nation gather in San Antonio for events such as bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, and barrel racing. The San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo benefits the SALE (San Antonio Livestock Exposition) scholarship helping send over 3,000 students to college.
The San Antonio Rodeo
The San Antonio Rodeo is held at the AT&T Center (formerly the SBC Center). This is an indoor arena where the Spurs play. The rodeo is full of all the typical rodeo rough stock events, calf roping, barrel racing, and steer wrestling. Always a favorite of mine is the mutton busting competition for the kids. These little cowboys and cowgirls attach themselves to the back of a sheep and hang on for dear life. Some hold on so tight that they have to be pulled off the backs of the sheep after their ride. This is a real treat for the crowd at the San Antonio rodeo. The best seats in the house are behind the calf chutes or near the bull pens. Sitting behind the calf chutes, rodeo spectators get a good view of what goes on with the calves, ropers, and steer wrestlers. It's neat to watch rodeo cowboys in this environment. Sitting near the rough stock chutes gets you closer to the bucking broncos and bulls which is of course exciting.
In my opinion, what really steals the show is the performance put on by world famous rodeo clown Leon Coffee. Leon is the all-star leading rodeo clown and keeps the audience thoroughly entertained. Leon comes to the rodeo each year with new with new material. His ability to save the hung up riders leads you to believe he is fearless and his toying with the bulls keeps you laughing. He also has a pretty good time poking fun at the announcer. Leon is world renowned and for good reason.
Depending on your tickets, you may have access to the Terrace Club or one of the other clubs in the AT&T center. The Terrace Club is a great place to watch the concert which follows the rodeo performance. It's up on the 4th level of the arena and has a fully stocked bar. I personally like this club for watching the concert performance but I'd recommend watching the rodeo performance from my ticketed seats. But make sure to check if your rodeo tickets give you access to any of the clubs in the center.
The Livestock Show takes up the bulk of the grounds in many different show barns. They tend to empty out towards the end of the rodeo so if you want to see all the pigs, goats, cows and horses, visit the rodeo grounds close to the beginning of the shows. These show barns are also a good place to see other events outside of the rodeo that entertain spectators with more specialized events like horse reigning or cutting horse shows.
Always a big draw to the rodeo is the carnival. The carnival is like many others but it has numerous rides, games and booths. The carnival is also a great place to people watch. A good cross section of people from San Antonio and surrounding town attend the carnival. Just don't eat too much carnival food and ride on the Zipper.
The show barns also have several areas that house craft shows and product booths. There are vendors offering everything from screen printed shirts to diesel tractors. The vendors have a huge amount of success at selling their items on the rounds of the AT&T center. The rodeo grounds are a place for the shopping minded cowgirl or cowboy.
San Antonio BBQ Cookoff
Kicking off the rodeo each year at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater is the BBQ cookoff. The cook-off starts at the end of January and runs through a weekend. This event has grown to be one of the larger revenue generators for the SALE scholarship. The first rodeo BBQ cookoff was held in 1997 and had 38 teams competing. The number of entries has increased to around 200 teams competing in this San Antonio rodeo sanctioned event. The cookoff has live music each night of the event and performers are big name bands. It can get pretty cold at the BBQ cookoff so make sure to dress appropriately. San Antonio Rodeo BBQ Cookoff