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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12. RICE

The struggle continues as Baylor comes to town the week after Texas left an impression of a boot print on the backside of Rice. I think this program is a long way off from winning games against Texas and Baylor but showing a little "want to" could go a long way with the alumni and the student section.

11. TEXAS STATE

I think I was wrong about Texas State not being the eleventh worst team in the state but honestly, maybe they are. This week at least will shake out the bottom of the list and show who is where as all the schools on this end of the list are playing similarly equal teams.

10. UTSA

How bad is UTSA? We'll know after this week. I think they can play a hard game against North Texas and honestly winning it isn't out of the question. This week will go a long way to determine the pecking order of the bottom of this list and if UTSA wants to move up, this is their chance.

9. UTEP

This week Nevada comes to town and UTEP gets to try and play away the memories of their Week 2 loss. How they perform this week will determine the integrity and quality of this team. Can they step up their game and respond to the adversity of a season slipping away?

8. NORTH TEXAS

Losing to SMU and then to Cal, the season is quickly slipping away from North Texas but here comes UTSA. This is a game that will determine the season for North Texas. Are they losers or are they going to fight for their season? This game will answer that question.

7.  TEXAS TECH

So much losing last week, it feels like almost the whole state of Texas lost. Texas Tech losing to Arizona did not help their season at all but there was no way to bump them down because everyone else lost too. Tech's off this week so the Red Raiders can reload and try again next week.

6. SMU

So yet again I correctly predicted SMU would win, and now they're looking strong. This week they have a chance to really elevate their season by traveling to now ranked #25 TCU. This is the hard one; rolling strong, good momentum but here's hoping momentum travels because this is a tough road game. I don't think SMU's winning ways continue but the upset would be huge for their year.

5. HOUSTON

So last week someone e-mailed me and asked why I had U of H over Baylor, considering Baylor was having a better year so far and I pointed out Houston's loss was to a Oklahoma and Baylor had been beating up cupcakes. Well the losing continued and now Baylor moved up while on a bye; Houston is down and it looks like even a win against Tulane won't change things.

4. BAYLOR

Coming off the bye, they passed U of H in the rankings because honestly U of H lost again. Baylor looks to continue its dominance of cupcakes this week against Rice and unless something changes this is probably where they'll be until they play Oklahoma later this season.

3. TCU

TCU won against Purdue and now they have SMU coming to town. These mid-level teams battling it out is the hardest thing to predict, because it's tough to gauge how far apart these teams are. I think TCU will win this game but even if they do, how much do we reward such a win? These are the things that makes college football fun.

2. TEXAS A&M

Texas A&M did exactly what I thought they would and beat Lamar. That probably helped the locker room feel better about their season but here comes Auburn and honestly, it's tough to see a way A&M wins this game. Obviously this will be the game to watch, but the odds of it going well are slim.

1. TEXAS

Texas took full advantage of Rice and took care of business. A big win after a loss is always what the doctor ordered but now Oklahoma State is coming to town and Texas needs to decide if they want to have a good season or a bad season. Stay Tuned.

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