Rodeo Austin returns after two years, features Melissa Etheridge's North American tour kickoff

Big crowds have returned to the Travis County Expo Center this week. Rodeo Austin is back in full swing, featuring a concert Wednesday night by Melissa Etheridge. 

"Growing up in Texas, spring break with your family, what more fun can you have," said Travis Richmond, who visited the rodeo Wednesday with his family.

"Great to be a part of an Austin tradition," said Debra Richmond. 

Organizers and attendees are glad to see the rodeo back, after being scrapped two years ago due to COVID-19. 

"We got canceled, and so we didn’t have a rodeo in '20 or '21, so it’s good to be back," said Rodeo Austin President Joe Straub. 

The main event Wednesday night featured everything from steer wrestling to professional bareback horse riding, which draws pros from across the country- even as far away as Brazil and Australia. 

"It’s just a lot of cowboys doing a lot of different events. We have tight end roping, bronc riding, bull riding," said Straub. 

If that's a little too intense for you, how about some mutton bustin'? That just-for-fun event features five-to-seven-year-olds riding sheep.

And really, it is all about the kids. The rodeo, at its core, is a nonprofit raising millions of dollars for youth in agriculture- many of whom are here competing. 

"We'll have about 8,000 kids with their animals go through our barn, go through judging, and we’ll have an auction at the end of that," said Straub. 

As they say, it's so much more than a rodeo, with the two-week event also boasting everything from pig races, to vendors, to the largest carnival in Central Texas. 

"We love getting to just spend time with the family, get to pet the animals, watch the rodeo and the pig races. Lots of fun things to do out here," said Sarah Walters, who came to the rodeo with her daughters.

The big show Wednesday night was the Melissa Etheridge concert, which has been a long time coming.

"She was supposed to be here the year that we had to cancel. We had everything set up to go, and we had to cancel on Friday night. And she was one of our stars coming out for entertainment, so it’s good to have her. Glad to get her re-booked," said Straub. 

In fact, Etheridge chose Rodeo Austin to kick off her North American tour. 

The rodeo has been around for more than 80 years, but somehow it just seems to be getting better.

"Everybody’s having fun. Best bang for your buck you can get, said Travis Richmond." 

The grounds open every day at 11AM, now through March 26. The pro rodeo starts each night at 7PM. For more information, visit

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