There are several events one must participate in this life to appreciate how different everyone is (for example - a NASCAR race, a PGA golf tournament, a college football game at a BCS state school, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, NYE at Times Square, any of the Monster Truck Jams, etc.).
One of these events was the San Antonio Stock and Rodeo Show, an annual three week affair in Texas that draws cowboys and cowgirls from all over the planet. I had the pleasure of attending along with my south Florida brother and miss Midtown herself. The spectacle was much more than I ever imagined (I will admit I was predisposed from memories of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"). I was not to be disappointed. My memories of the silly scenes in Borat had nothing on the SA Rodeo. I had never seen so many cowboy hats, cowboy boots, massive belt buckles and other garb on men and women in an audience at one time. There is a sense of a secret dress code to which these three outsiders were not privy too. We kept getting the "you're not from round here" looks. Even the arena shops, which typically sell Spurs gear, were loaded with hats, trinkets and large belt buckles (who wears these anyways - and how do they not interfere with daily operations such as walking?). The event started much like others hosted in a large modern arena: good crowd, overpriced beer in aluminum bottle shaped cans, lots of junk food and an impressive laser show to open the event. What followed was quite unique: an arena - wide prayer, cowgirls and cowboys on horseback riding in some inexplicable formation and lots of Texas flags waving with a silly old DJ leading and introducing the events. The prayer - which lasted an uncomfortably long time as fans swayed while standing next to their seats feeling the effects of alcohol ingested throughout the day - was centered around asking for protection for the participants from the events to follow. Let the games begin! You know it has to be good when you ask the Lord for protection...and it was awesome. All of it.
Instantly turned me and my companions into huge fans. We found ourselves cheering and yelling and hollering like all the other cow-peeps in the crowd, upset about judge's flags on the barrel racing, team roping, steer wresting, tie down roping and other insane events. The crowd favorites were the bareback and bull riding...those guys are hardcore. The evening closed out with a Josh Turner concert set up on a hydraulically operated stage that unfolded (most impressive contraption - turned out to be his high point) much to the delight of the fans.
This is must-see-in-person event to truly appreciate the rodeo for all it is. The livestock and horse show outside the arena is quite the show as well, but the real deal in inside. Make sure you bring your hat, boots and enormous belt buckle if you decide to go. Yee-haw!