LASSO IT UP

3 small-town Texas rodeos just a gallop from Houston

West of the Pecos Rodeo. West of the Pecos Rodeo/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Cindy Brzostowski.

Football may seem like the lifeblood of Texas, but it's surprisingly not actually the official state sport. In fact, that honor goes to rodeo. When spring rolls around, over 2 million people head to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

While that big-time event has come and gone for 2019, but small towns around the state are lassoing up their own rodeos for the summer season. Break out those boots and take a road trip to one of these lesser-known rodeos.

Mesquite Championship Rodeo — 3.5 hours from Houston
What better place to enjoy the fun of rodeo than in the Rodeo Capital of Texas itself? That would be Mesquite, Texas, just 20 minutes east of Dallas. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo at the Mesquite Arena runs June 1-August 24 and kicks off opening day with musical guest Mark Chesnutt. Every Saturday there's an interactive fan experience from 6-7 pm and then a different event at 7:30 pm. Spectators will get the chance to see competitors from around the country compete in bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback bronc riding, saddleback bronc riding, barrel racing, tie-down roping, and team roping. Then, the whole rodeo wraps up with a close-out concert by Clay Walker.

Nearby attractions: While you're enjoying the state's rodeo capital, consider embracing another one of Mesquite's titles as a designated Tree City USA by the National Arbor Foundation with a trip to Trinity Forest Adventure Park. The park is less than 15 minutes from the rodeo and gives visitors the chance to tackle high ropes courses and obstacles of varying difficulty levels amid the treetops.

Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo — 7 hours from Houston
Located between Midland and Abilene is the city of Big Spring, which holds its annual rodeo June 20-22 this year. The events include bareback bronc riding, barrels, bull riding, calf roping, mutton bustin', saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, and team roping. On top of the rodeo sport festivities, you can catch Jason Boland & the Stragglers perform on Friday evening and Wade Bowen on Saturday night.

Nearby attractions: Big Spring has two local museums: Heritage Museum of Big Spring and Hangar 25 Air Museum. The former is all about the local history of the city, as well as West Texas. The latter is in a restored World War II hangar and showcases the history of the Big Spring Army Air Force Bombardier School and Webb Air Force Base, where thousands of pilots were trained.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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