Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saddle Up Houston 2

Called the oil and gas capital of US, Houston is just another metro city in the US 340 days a year - young chic professionals sipping Starbucks lattes, talking on their cell phones and walking past skyscrapers as Bollywood typically portrays any US city. But for the rest 20 days of the year, H-town is something out of a Clint Eastwood movie - cowboy hats and blue jeans, horses, goats, pigs and cattle, bronc riding and country music.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) is the third largest fair in North America and the biggest of its kind in the world. The mission and purpose of the HLSR, reads that it is organized for charitable, educational and scientific purposes to encourage and promote the breeding, raising and marketing of better livestock and farm products at public fairs and to promote and maintain research and educational functions within the livestock industry.

The rodeo and the livestock show continue to fascinate me, mainly because it is so different from the usual activities I frequent with my camera and friends. The smells, sights and sounds I associate with the HLSR are many-a-times ones I remember from my days in India, making me nostalgic. The 2008's events drew to an end on Saturday, and it was time for the Western movie set that had placed itself over Houston to move over.

Unlike the past years, when I typically used to buy a ticket for a day, this year I went ahead and brought a Funpass which entitles unlimited access. I visited the HLSR 3-4 times at different times of the day and during different events and here are a few photos from my visits to the HLSR this year.

The Rodeo Parade:
Pictures from the Rodeo Parade are here.

The BBQ Cook-off:
It is a known fact that we Texans take our barbecue quite seriously. And the cowboys take it to another level with an annual cook-off lasting over two days. It is just not the slow-smoked-food that attracts people, the decorated cook pits, the parties at the cook pits are all a part of the whole event.

The cowboy boot and the setting sun, 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/400s

Holy Goat! The cowboy idea of a cool decor? 80-200mm @165mm, f/2.8, 1/50s

Loved the Coldriver team's custom-made ironwork , 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/125s

The Carnival:
By far, this is my most favorite part of the HLSR. It takes me back to the summer exhibitions (chitirai porutkatchis) I used to go as a kid in Madurai. Miles away, years later, carnival food and rides still make me so happy. The oven-roasted corn, the deep-fried goodies, the fresh-spun cotton candies, the candy apples, the popcorn, the outrageously expensive bottle of water? Sounds familiar? I guess carnivals around the world are same yet different.

BBQed Turkey Legs anyone? 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/80s

The grande wheel (that is how it was called this year!) at night. 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/160s

The second wheel, 17-35mm @17mm, f/8, 1/320s

A view from the top of the carnival grounds 17-35mm @17mm, f/8, 1/160s

Twilight at the Carnival 17-35mm @35mm, f/8, 1/40s

By far the most popular attraction, the mechanical bull. 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/500s

Budding cowboy! 80-200mm @92mm, f/2.8, 1/80s

Just for future cowboys and cowgals, pony rides 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/500s

And if you prefer something more exotic, try the camel rides 17-35mm @24mm, f/16, 1/80s

A patient cowboy waiting for the races to begin 17-35mm @35mm, f/3.2, 1/250s

Carnival rides - can you hear the screams? 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/250s

Sky ride across the fair grounds 17-35mm @17mm, f/8, 1/800s

Round and round we go!
80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/125s

80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/40s

Jumping Jack? A enthusiastic carnival lover in one of the attractions 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/60s Flash

In action - caught somersaulting 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/60s Flash

Sliding down for fun. Reminds me of the concrete slides from those days. 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/60s Flash

Racing hearts, waiting for the ride to begin 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/25s

Lil cowboys love go-karts 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/20s

I think I am scared. Are you? Cliff hangers waiting to spread their wings 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/60s Flash

Racing pigs. Entertainment of the other kind 80-200mm @200mm, f/2.8, 1/50s

Found it too funny to resist. Seen on the pigs RV 80-200mm @80mm, f/2.8, 1/160s

Trucks a cowboy's best friend - worth its weight in gold 80-200mm @145mm, f/2.8, 1/1250s

For sale, the championship longhorn. FYI 2002's Grand Champion Steer purchased for $600,001. 17-35mm @26mm, f/2.8, 1/30s


backpakker said...

looks like a great picnic idea for kids ..and the young at heart :)

Rajan said...

Its indeed a great picnic idea.. almost like the exhibitions and fairs we have in India.

Sabi said...

Rajan, ur pics are true to say manythings.
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