Oct 4, 2017–When we first moved to the Hill Country, there was a small rodeo arena on Hwy 16 south of Fredericksburg. I remember pulling in with the kids and letting them experience the dust, grit, and bellowing of bulls, broncs, and barrel racing. There is no greater thrill for a 5-year-old boy than to hang on the rails and get hit with bull snot.
Alas, that venue went away. And I hadn’t thought much about rodeos until I was invited to the Tejas Rodeo, near Bulverde. They put on a live rodeo every Saturday night from March through November.
Actually, Tejas Rodeo is more than just a rodeo.
“That’s kind of our tagline–we offer a true taste of Texas,” said Trey Martin, co-owner and president of the company.”
That “taste” is literal. Enter the neon gate and you are immersed in a world of vendors, food booths, rides, and live music. You can chow down at Tejas Steakhouse & Saloon, sample Mexican street foods and mesquite-grilled carne asada from La Gloria and El Machito, or walk up and order something from the Tejas Smokehouse. There’s even a Mercado.
While this is the 11th year of putting on the weekly rodeos, the success “didn’t happen overnight,” according to Martin. He started the business in 1999, boarding horses and giving riding lessons. They added the steakhouse, and opened the rodeo in 2006, after former professional bull rider Yancey James joined him. Recent additions include a wedding and event center, and a bunkhouse for guest accommodations.
Martin, who by day is an attorney in San Antonio, could feel the future.
“We knew the city was coming this way, that San Antonio was moving north,” he said. “We couldn’t stop it, so we thought there would be a real niche to do this.”
They hit the bullseye, judging by the crowd the night I was there. You had your cowboys and cowgirls, but there was a mix of styles in the crowd, including younger fans that weren’t exactly dressed for the Streets of Laredo.
“Probably 50% of our visitors are tourists, some from other parts of the United States and some from overseas, including Mexico, Spain, and Australia,” Martin said.
Those visitors want to see the real Texas, according to James.
“When you talk to people from other countries, they picture a Texas with cowboys and rodeos,” James said. “They visit San Antonio, then want to see a rodeo and talk to a real cowboy.”
And that’s what Tejas Rodeo gives them. Around 7:30, the show begins. The crowd–which averages 1100–finds seats in the covered rodeo arena. Out bursts the mounted drill team, flags flying while performing intricate maneuvers, followed by Martin driving his chuckwagon around the arena. That is followed by an hour and a half of bucking, roping, and wrestling.
Regular events include bull riding, roping, and barrel racing, mixed in with mutton busting and calf scramble. Contestants range from novices and locals, to circuit regulars and national rodeo finalists.
After the last calf is wrangled, visitors drift back over to the Steakhouse or covered dance floor, where they can listen to a live band until 1 a.m. There are pony rides for the kids, and a mechanical bull for the wannabes.
“It’s good family fun entertainment,” James said, “You come in, eat real food at the steakhouse or go get a barbecue sandwich or popcorn, dance and stay until one in the morning if you like. It’s cheaper than going to the movies.”
There’s one more reason, according to Martin, who still ropes and rides in his own rodeo.
“The best part is, you still get to see something of our Texas heritage.”
Tejas Rodeo Company, Western Sky Weddings & Event Center, and Bunkhouse Accommodations are located at 401 Obst Road, Bulverde, Texas 78163.
Admission for the Rodeo and Dance is $12 for adults, $6 for ages 6-12, 5 and under are free. Gate admission covers rodeo, dance, and parking. Food cost is additional.