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A parent’s guide to the 2020 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Cornhole!
Cornhole! (Jill B. Jarvis)

Houston is already buzzing with Rodeo Houston excitement!

The big event is from March 3-22, with events starting the weeks before the show. Whether you go every year or are new to Houston’s big event, here are the important dates and tips to get you ready to take the kids. (See the video HERE!)

Pre-Rodeo Events

1. Rodeo Roundup – Tuesday, Feb. 25, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This free event is at City Hall. Here you can grab a free lunch, dance to live music, take photos with a Texas Longhorn steer and learn about your Rodeo’s contributions to the community.

2. Bar-B-Que Contest – Feb. 27-29

The public is invited to the Bar-B-Que Contest and can go the carnival and get complimentary sliced brisket, beans and chips. Admission is $20 for adults or $5 for kids 3-12 years old. Admission is included with the season pass (so if you plan to visit the grounds multiple times during the season, get the season pass instead).

Also, the carnival is open during the cookoff, and there are usually no lines!

3. Trail Rides – Feb. 28

All trail rides make their way to Memorial Park. The routes are HERE!

4. Go Texan Day – Feb. 28

Go Texan Day is the unofficial kickoff of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Residents are encouraged to wear Western attire, such as jeans, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats.

5. Rodeo Parade – Feb. 29, 10 a.m.

Decorative floats intermingle with thousands of men and women on horseback to fill the streets with hoof beats and marching bands.

6. Rodeo Run – Feb. 29, 9 a.m.

Run for a cause! Proceeds from the event benefit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

****Also, during the pre-rodeo season, be sure to buy your discount carnival packs. They are not available once rodeo starts.****

Fun on the Farm Corn Box!
Fun on the Farm Corn Box! (Jill B. Jarvis)

Rodeo Events

The Rodeo and Livestock Show is open daily, March 3-22. You can get general admission tickets to visit the Livestock Show and Carnival, or you can buy Rodeo/Concert tickets to do it all.

Each year, we buy the general admission season pass (for the grounds and not for the concerts) and go in the morning. Right at 8 a.m, we tour the Livestock Show, watch the chicks hatch from their eggs and get to see everything before the crowds arrive. At 9 a.m, the petting zoo and rabbit house opens and at 10 a.m. we head to Fun on the Farm.

By the time the field trips and crowds are at RodeoHouston, we’re heading home for naps. And some days we bring the big kids back after school.

Here’s what you need to know if you plan to go to the Rodeo Houston this year.

Admission:

  • General Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for kids, free for kids under 2 years old. If you have a concert ticket, you do not need a general admission ticket (so do NOT buy both).
  • Since we go a lot, we buy the general admission season pass. This year it is $35 (up from $25 a couple of years ago). Note that this also gets you daily admission to World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (before the Rodeo/Livestock show). This does not get you into the concert.
  • On Wednesdays, called Family Wednesdays, there is free general admission for seniors, 60 and over, and children, 12 and under… only until NOON this year! You can also enjoy $2 rides and games from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with a $2 food or drink item at select food stands in the Junction Carnival.

Transportation:

  • Parking lots are around $20… so we take METRORail. It is only $1.25 for anyone older than 5 and it drops you off right at the rodeo ticket booth.
  • Parking is available up and down the tracks. We park in the museum district.
Petting zoo
Petting zoo (Jill B. Jarvis)

Free Activities Inside Rodeo Houston:

***We’ll confirm the details for 2020 once we go March 3!***

You could spend a lot of money at Rodeo Houston but you don’t have to. Once inside, there are tons of free things to do.

  • Kids Country opens at 9 a.m., Fun on the Farm opens at 10 a.m. and the carnival opens at 10-11 a.m., but AgVenture has a lot to see at 8 a.m. While the rodeo is waking up, the vendors and shops are still getting ready for the day and the field trips are still preparing to take over the park, we have some room to run around the birthing center, rabbits, bees and anthill. We can see the baby chicks poking out of their eggs and the baby pigs sleeping.
  • These free activities are open every day at Rodeo Houston:
  • Fun on the Farm – This might be our favorite part of rodeo! Kids get to plant seeds, feed chickens, collect wool, milk cows and sell their products at market, “buy” a small treat with their earnings and put some “money” in the bank, and it’s free! (If you see a field trip going through, give it a minute and you’ll find some space to get through a little quicker!)
  • Stars Over Texas Stage – All day you can catch kid friendly shows under the tent. There are sing-a-longs, animal acts and more. We saw our first sloth here!
  • Petting Zoo -Feeding the animals costs a few dollars… but the petting zoo is free! If you go early in the morning, you will probably have the space to yourself.
  • Pig Races – Watch the piglets race around a 150-foot track.
  • Livestock Show – Walk through the rows of cows in the back of the NRG Center or sit and watch the competitions!
  • Horse Show – On the opposite side of NRG Park, away from the Kids Carnival, is the Horse Arena. This is sort of a secret spot at the rodeo because most people are on the other side of the park. The NRG Arena has shopping, stalls of horses to walk through and a competition to watch.
  • AGventure Honeybees – Walk through a hive and watch honey bees!
  • AGventure Milking Parlor – See where milk comes from!
  • AGventure Tour of Texas – Take a tour of Texas all inside NRG Center. It’s like a mini-museum inside the Rodeo Houston!
  • AGventure Baby Chicks and Chickens -See chicks hatch, see the newborns and the big chickens.
  • AGventure Birthing Center – See the newborn babies at the rodeo! Many are just a few days old!
  • And all of AGventure… including the We’re Small Y’All Barn, Collector Cards, Sunflower Planting and more!
RodeoHouston carnival
RodeoHouston carnival (Jill B. Jarvis)

Carnival:

  • New this year: Half Price Carnival Tickets are ONLINE. Download the “Rodeo Carnival” App, and then buy your tickets. You can send the tickets to your smartphone and skip Will Call. Get details HERE. (Note: Half Price Tickets are only available to buy before Rodeo starts!)
  • On Family Wednesdays, you can also enjoy $2 rides and games from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with a $2 food or drink item at select food stands in the Junction Carnival.
  • New this year: Rodeo Houston Sensory Friendly Carnival Experience, March 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m! There will be minimal lights and sounds permitted in certain areas of The Junction and the main carnival area to provide an accommodating and positive experience for guests with sensory sensitivities or challenges. More than 40 rides will be included in the Sensory Friendly Experience. Rodeo volunteers from the Special Children’s Committee will also be on site to assist guests during this time.
RodeoHouston's AgVenture
RodeoHouston's AgVenture (Jill B. Jarvis)

Food:

  • Outside food is not allowed into the stadium for the concert but it is allowed on the grounds.
  • We bring in snacks and water each day (and I’ve confirmed with the PR team that this is allowed).
  • The catch is… each year I get reports from people saying food was not allowed. I think that the security guards were confused, but still, be safe and just bring in a little food so you won’t be sad to throw it out.
  • Also, my unscientific experiment is that, last year, the security on the north side of the park (by McNee) was okay with me bringing in water and snacks. The security on the east/south side (by the train tracks) gave me more trouble, but finally, let me bring it in for the toddler.
  • There is some fantastic food and some crazy food at the rodeo. (Like hot Cheetos on everything, Fruity Pebble crusted shrimp, fried everything…). If you are going to buy food, plan on at least $10 per dish and $3 for drinks.
  • Gold Buckle Foodie Awards will be announced once rodeo starts. You can find last year’s winners HERE.

Rodeo And Concerts:

We only go to one rodeo and concert each year so we’re not even close to experts but I do know:

  • The 2020 line up is HERE.
  • No outside food is allowed in the stadium. Even if you buy BBQ at the Rodeo, you need to finish it before going to the stadium.
  • Weekday rodeos start at 6:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately two hours later.
  • Weekend rodeos start at 3:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately two hours later.
  • I’ve been able to push in strollers in the past (and stow them when I get close to my seat).

Rain

  • Even if it rains, there is a lot to do at Rodeo Houston and the crowds will likely be smaller! HERE‘s the list of things to do from last year.
Baby stations for your convenience.
Baby stations for your convenience. (Jill B. Jarvis)

More Tidbits

***We’ll confirm the details for 2020 once we go March 3!***

Here are some cool things we’ve found in the past. (And no, they are not secret, but they are a little harder to find!)

  • Back Porch – Take a break from the craziness with a trip to the Back Porch! Here you will find a fenced-off area with benches, cornhole games, tables and lots and lots of animal-shaped topiaries!
  • Baby Station – Returning from last year is a pod in NRG Center near the Livestock Show. It’s a cool little room for moms to feed their babies in private. One pod is in the hall outside Hall A. The second one moved from the hall outside Hall E… to just inside Hall E, by the shopping. This map shows where to find them in the main hall of the NRG Center.
  • Bargain Barn – This is where to find Rodeo Houston hats and shirts for $10 (and jackets/sweatshirts for $15). These are from last year but don’t have a year listed on them… and are cheaper than the other Rodeo Houston stores! AND if you have the half-price carnival pack, you can use your coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase. The barn is outside the NRG Center (out from Hall C).
Fun on the Farm
Fun on the Farm (Jill B. Jarvis)

This article originally appeared at JillBJarvis.com and is being featured here as part of a partnership. Click here to view the article in its original format.