Rodeo is the official sport of Texas. Whether it’s your first time at the rodeo or you’re an avid fan, Rodeo Austin is a great way to see cowboys try to stay on bucking broncos or watch cowgirls race around the barrels. The Austin rodeo isn’t just about professional sport. Here, you’ll also indulge in live music, fair food, and a carnival with more rides than you can experience in a day. Here’s what to know when planning a visit to the Austin Rodeo.
What is the Austin Rodeo?
The Austin Rodeo takes place over two weeks in March at the Travis County Exposition Center. For two hours each night, attendees can watch several ProRodeo events. Top-ranked athletes make appearances and are ranked in a bracket-style competition, making this rodeo truly unique.
After the non-profit ProRodeo, attendees can enjoy a country concert in the Luedecke Arena. Performers include big names like Melissa Etheridge, Scotty McCreery, Aaron Watson, Walk the Moon, Boyz II Men, Carly Pearce, Robert Earl Keen, and the Oakridge Boys. There’s also live music and dancing at the 100X Dance Hall along with cocktails, beers, and yard games to keep the entertainment going. You can also catch live coverage of the ProRodeo events.
The event also features a huge carnival and fair with games, food — including famous Austin BBQ —, and special attractions the whole family can enjoy. The fair includes more than 80 rides and games, which are purchased individually. At the fair, swing by the outdoor stage to enjoy local live music. The lineup for the live music event is typically released in January.
Kids and adults alike will love the livestock show, petting zoo, and agricultural education offerings at the rodeo as well. You’ll find everything from horse shoes and dogs shows to pig races.
Austin Rodeo Main Events
Each rodeo is slightly different, though they do tend to offer many of the same events. The Austin Rodeo offers something for everyone with activities for professional cowboys and events that show off the style and grit of the next generation. Here’s what you can expect to see at the Austin Rodeo.
Riders have to last 8 seconds on the back of a bucking bronco without a saddle. Points are awarded for spurring technique, control, and the horse’s ability.
Cowboys and cowgirls on horseback wrangle a steer onto its side with all feet facing the same direction. The fastest wrangler takes home the prize. As with all timed rodeo events, riders are given a 10-second penalty if they break the barrier at the start of the run.
This one gets the Texas kids in on the fun. Instead of a horse, kids try to hang onto a sheep for six seconds. Points are given for skill for both the animal and the rider. It’s the perfect activity for aspiring cowboys and cowgirls and is a crowd-pleaser each year.
This is the only team event at the Austin Rodeo. The event starts with a header roping a steer on horseback. A heeler follows, roping the animal’s back legs. The clock stops when the two horses are facing each other on opposite ends of the steer.
Saddle Bronc Riding
This is what everyone thinks of when going to a rodeo. The signature event features riders using spurring movements to get the bronco to buck high, while staying on the horse. Points are awarded for how hard the horse bucks as well as the quality of the spurring stroke.
A calf is given a head start and then a rider and horse head after it. Once the rider ropes the calf, he or she dismounts and ties three of the calf’s legs together using what’s called a piggin string. The fastest time takes home to glory.
This ladies-only event is all about speed. The clock starts when the cowgirl and horse enter the arena — usually at full sprint. They make their way around three barrels, taking a path that looks similar to a clover. The rider can touch or move barrels without any issues, but penalties are received if a barrel is knocked over.
In this event, bull riders attempt to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds. The judges award equal points for the bull’s performance and the rider’s performance. The rider should demonstrate good body position and spurring action. A rider is disqualified if they touch the animal or themselves with their free hand.
Bullfighters and the Barrel Man
Technically, these aren’t competitions, but they’re still part of the fun. Throughout the events, you’ll watch bullfighters distract the bulls in order to give the cowboys and cowgirls time to get out of the arena. The barrel man serves as another distraction for the bulls, but he gets a padded barrel to jump into for protection.
How To Attend the Austin Rodeo
To attend the ProRodeo & Concert in Austin, you’ll need to buy tickets from the official website rodeoaustin.com. You can buy general admission tickets or opt for premium ticket offerings.
The premium tickets include an option for season passes for all 15 nights.These tickets range from $2,400 to $3,300 and guarantee premium seats for every ProRodeo event. You can also purchase Xtreme Seats tickets, which get you seating right in the front row for live music and box seats about the bucking chutes. There are also group and corporate ticket options if you’re planning a larger outing.
To visit the carnival, you must have a fairgrounds or rodeo ticket. You’ll pay for rides and games individually, but in general they cost $2 to $10. To pay for rides, you can’t just use cash or a credit card. You’ll first need to get a Magic Money card on-site and then load that. These credits can then be used at games, rides, and food vendors throughout the fair. If you run out of credits and want the fun to continue, you can reload the MAgic money card using an app or by visiting one of the kiosks. You can also purchase an unlimited ride wristband to ride all the rides all day long for a set price.
It’s best to buy tickets online so you can avoid long lines at the ticket office onsite. Once you’ve purchased tickets, head down to the Travis County Expo Center at 9100 Decker Lake Rd. There, you’ll find signs for the designated parking areas, which cost $15. The fairgrounds open at 10:00am, but most of the crowds start streaming in an hour or two before the ProRodeo events so plan your visit accordingly.
Austin Has It All — From Rodeos To Food and More
Ready to have some gritty fun? Plan your trip to Rodeo Austin today. You’ll be delighted by the professional rodeo events as well as stock shows featuring Texas longhorns and live music, concerts, and carnivals.
Looking for other ways to have fun in Austin and the surrounding areas? Continue browsing ATX Guides where you’ll find the best Austin events from downtown Austin to nearby areas like San Antonio. Plus, you’ll discover everything that;’s trending in Austin — from the latest restaurants to events and ways to stay entertained.