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San Antonio

Stock Show & Rodeo Enters Final Week Of Mutton Busting, Laser Shots and Kettle Corn

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Brian Kirkpatrick
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Texas Public Radio
The annual event ends on Feb. 24.

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo of 2019 offered more than just bull riding, hog shows, cattle auctions or turkey legs, and it's not over yet.

Music, cowboys and cowgirls

The final week's musical offerings include country singer John Pardi, Lady Antebellum, Sammy Hagar & the Circle, Prince Royce, Randy Houser and Brett Eldredge. Learn more about the music here.

Professional rodeo competitors will vie for their share of a one-point-six million dollar purse, the largest in the country, according to rodeo officials.

Visitors can watch them rope a calf, ride bulls and barrel-race each other to the finish line. Children can enjoy some mutton busting, in which they don crash helmets and ride sheep.

Auctions for education

The event also offers a variety of auctions.

Sierra Reynolds came to the stock show from her hometown of Willis, near Houston, to auction off her hog and maybe win a little money.

Texas Public Radio inteviewed her just two minutes before showtime for Pumpkin, a hog from a domestic breed called Duroc.

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Credit Brian Kirkpatrick / Texas Public Radio News
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Texas Public Radio News
Sierra Reynolds with her hog, Pumpkin.

"This is her last show," Reynolds said, "and she's going to back to the breeder and breed, and she is quality Duroc, and she'll turn into a mama soon, so we're gonna show and see how she does.”

On Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m., all eyes will be on the results of the junior steer auction. Last year's champion steer, Checkers, sold for $110,000.

Rodeo officials said since the event began in 1950 more than $198 million from auctions has helped fund college educations.

Wildlife appreciation

In 2019, the stock show expanded the variety of its attractions. One new offering was the Texas Wildlife Expo. Its exhibits shared the objective of encouraging Texans to spend more time outdoors and learn to appreciate the natural world.

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Texas Public Radio News
The San Antonio Zoo's play campground at the expo encourages kids to explore the outdoors. Zoo representatives are (from left) Dave Bolster, Pam Javior and Emily McKittrick.

The San Antonio Zoo contributed some of its expertise to the wildlife expo. The Zoo's Emily McKittrick said they set up a special campground for kids to inspire them to put down the video games and get outside.

"So this area is designed to sort of draw them in,” she said. “We've got a pretend campfire going, a camping tent and some camping chairs and a picnic table, so it draws them in and gets them playing and gets a conversation started with their parents about, 'hey, have you ever taken kids camping? These are some places you can go that are nearby.' "

Visitors to the zoo's exhibit can examine both native and exotic animals, including alligators.

Another expo participant Cross T Ranch of Bandera, which offers a longhorn exhibit.

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Texas Public Radio News
David Brimager demonstrates ethical killing of deer.

A section on deer offers a different approach to wildlife education: deer hunting.

The San Antonio-based Texas Wildlife Association reports deer hunting is a $3.6 billion industry, with one million hunters and four million white-tail deer. Association spokesman David Brimager said their exhibit booth allows hunters to get in some practice with a laser rifle.

"The laser shot simulator helps educate hunters on how to properly harvest animals, how to make proper and ethical shots,” he said.

Comfort food

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is famous for its comfort foods, like barbeque, turkey legs, funnel cake, and kettle corn.

Kettle corn is sold by the bag. A small one costs seven dollars, while a big one costs ten.

Old Fashioned Kettle Corn owner/operators, Diane Veillex, and her husband Tom, say this is not their first rodeo, literally.

"This is our 11th year at the Stock Show and Rodeo, and we're making kettle corn, and the pots we're cooking in [are] over one hundred years old," she said.

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Credit Brian Kirkpatrick / Texas Public Radio News
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Texas Public Radio News
Rows of turkey legs smoke on a grill at Big Bubba's.

After a short amount of heating, the kettle quickly fills with golden sweet popcorn. The popping can be heard from more than a few feet away.

Nearby, Elizabeth Frere runs Big Bubba's.

"We sell everything from barbeque sandwiches, like chicken, pulled pork, to our famous pork ribs, spare ribs, “she said. “We also sell bacon-wrapped pork belly and chicken kabobs.”

VIA offers round trip Park & Ride services to the rodeo on weekends from 6 p.m. to midnight from the Crossroads location at I-10 and 410 on the near northwest side.

Parking at the rodeo is ten dollars, and grounds admission is also ten dollars, rodeo officials said.

The rodeo ends Feb. 24.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.