There are two rights of spring in Central Texas: Bluebonnets and Rodeo Austin. The presence of the bluebonnets pre-dates the first settlers. And Rodeo Austin has been here nearly as long. Well, almost.
The rodeo started in March 1940 as local young men and boys herded 20 caves calves to West 11th Street and Congress Avenue for the Baby Beef Show. The event has since turned into a two-week extravaganza including a livestock show, carnival, concert and rodeo. The rodeo is the fifth largest indoor rodeo in the United States.
Ninety-six athletes compete in seven events over 12 nights in the Qualifying Round. The top 16 scores advance to two nights of the Playoff Round. The top eight compete in the Final Round with a champion named in each of the seven events. We were there for the third night of the Qualifying Round.
One of my favorite moments from Monday’s Rodeo Austin was the national anthem. I’ve seen hundreds of national anthems in my job. Rodeo Austin always does it well with the commentary, spotlighting and pageantry.
In one of the first rides of the evening bareback rider Wyatt Bloom held on to Molly V. Bloom took the top position with a score of 83.
Steer wrestling followed, where a cowboy chases and ropes a steer from his horse, then dismounts from the horse to lift the steer from its feet on to its back. My wife always cheers for the steers in this event. Tonight it was Cowboys 4, Steers 4, with 1 penalty on a Cowboy. Cody Cabral took top honors for the cowboys by completing the task in 3.4 seconds.
Veteran saddle bronc rider Cody DeMoss took the top spot with a score of 85 riding the bronc Dakota Babe. Cody has been riding professionally since 2003 and was 23rdin the world last year.
Jessica Routier won the evening’s Barrel Racing competition. Routier was the only rider to break the 15-second mark. Last year she was 8thin the world in Barrel Racing.
Bull Rider Scottie Knapp gracefully separates from bull Nutrena’s Catching Hell at @rodeoaustin on Monday. Knapp’s 5 second ride earned him a score of 81 and top honors.
Not enough can be said on the good work done by the rodeo clowns. These “clowns” came to the rescue of bull rider Jeff Bertus and saved him from serious injury. Bertus was tossed by bull “The Gambler” moments into his ride. He was pinned by the bull against the shoot gate before the clowns distracted the bull.