Went and got a little country

Now for ya’ll that know me, you know that goin’ a little country is the roots of my raising.

I’m a bit more comfortable getting lost in the woods than I am in a big city. I can fathom starting a campfire more easily than finding a parking spot in San Francisco.

That said, you know I also love the urban area where I live. The art, the music, and oh the food.

So this weekend, the two sides of me managed to converge in one geography.

You see, there is this establishment just south of San Francisco called the Cow Palace. I am not making this up.

I remember the first time I visited the Bay Area. I remember driving north on Highway 101 from the airport and I saw the sign for the Cow Palace. I was like “WTF?” (I believe that is a direct quote.)

A palace for cows?

I got my first chance to visit the venerable Cow Palace about eight years ago for a car show. (Yes, I own it, I like car shows) I found it to be an odd yet intriguing place. It reminded me, on many levels, of Albuquerque’s own Tingley Coliseum.

While wandering the halls of the Cow Palace that car show day, I noticed there was a wall of grainy black and white photos of old men in cowboy hats. I was told then that the Cow Palace has hosted a rodeo for many years. “Well, cool” I thought. But then thought “the Bay Area doesn’t know nothin’ ’bout goin’ country.”

Each year that I’ve lived here, I’d see on the news the story about the kickoff to the rodeo. A longstanding tradition where cowboys drive a small herd of longhorn cattle down a busy urban street to the Cow Palace. Here’s a link to this year’s story complete with photos and video: Moo!

I always wanted to go see what was doing at a rodeo held at a palace for cows, but due to a lot of circumstances that don’t bear explaining here, I spent a lot of time alone in those days (despite being in a relationship). I was never brave enough to go to the Grand National Rodeo by myself.

This year is different. I am in a relationship with The Good Man. My Brooklyn-born, City raised fiancée. There is no way I’d ever have thought he’d be into the rodeo.

Man, was I ever wrong. Another good lesson in tempering expectations, eh? (May The Good Man always be such a source of surprise for me.)

Several weeks back, TGM sent me the links to the rodeo and said he wanted to go. He’d gone to the Grand National a few times in the past and enjoyed it, but hadn’t been in a long while.

For me, come May, I’ll have lived in the Bay Area eleven years. So it’s been at least that long, maybe tack on a couple more, since I’d seen a rodeo myself.

Saturday rolled around, the last day of this year’s rodeo, and we made sure we didn’t miss it. I pulled on my fave Fat Babies, did my hair up high as the heat and humidity would allow, and we hit the 2:00 pm show. We even managed to get ourselves a couple real nice box seats.


What an impressive show. It was a tight two-hour rodeo with great cowboy competition. In between events, they had top notch entertainment like Tenessee Walking horses, Open Hackamore reining events and the best was Tomas Garcilazo, a genuine and incredibly talented Charro (and his horse Chollo too).

I was oh so very worried about going to a San Francisco rodeo, not knowing what it would be like here in the big town. I had nothing to worry about. It was great. As soon as the first bareback rider came blasting out of the gate, I knew all about it. I was right in my element.

We had *the best* time. When the rodeo was over, we wandered the cowboy art show, shopped the mercantile, and generally took in the sights.

All of that was followed by kick ass eats at Milagros. Nothing puts the topper on a day like hand smashed guacamole…oh, and a glass of sangria.

What a great weekend…

Turns out the Bay Area DOES know a little bit about goin’ country.

Confidential to my best friend in Las Cruces:

No, it didn’t compare to that cold rainy night at the rodeo in Silver City. But then that night was more about the post-rodeo party…

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  • Natalie

    Yeeee Haw! Sounds like a great time. I haven’t been to a rodeo in years and, in fact, I think the last time was here, in ABQ, at Tingley.
    The first time I ever went to the Cow Palace… I think I was around 12, or so, and my dad took us to see the Ringley Bros. circus. We walked on dirt and sawdust.
    I’m not much for the circus ’cause I always feel so badly for the animals. I kind of feel the same way about rodeos (now that I’m older) but still love to watch a good cutting horse competition.
    Sounds like you and TGM had a real nice time.
    And you had Sangria…. to boot.
    I have a pair of Fat Babies, too. They are my absolute favorite ’cause they are so danged comfortable AND cool lookin’.
    Okay… How many hats do you have? I have fve: two beaver felt and three straw. Only one head, though… lol.
    Take care!

  • Leucantha`

    I think I came by via Natalie’s blog a while back. I would be skeptical of a San Fran Rodeo too. Glad you had a good time! I haven’t made it to one in a long time, although we may let my son try mutton busting this year. When you were younger before you went to a rodeo did you starch your clothes so they could stand by themselves too?

  • Karen Fayeth

    leucantha` – oh girl…the starch. OH THE STARCH! I remember the rich kids could afford to get their jeans pressed at the cleaners with a razor sharp crease. Me, it was hours with an iron and a can of Niagra spray starch. Good memory!!! The smell of spray starch and Aqua Net spells a good Saturday night in my house!!!

    Natalie – unfortch, I have a funny head so only really one straw hat (seen in my blog photo). Have always wanted a good felt but never found one that looked right on my noggin. Have seen a couple of your hats in various photos and they look great!!

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