The real star of the rodeo is the food

Well yesterday was a day I wait for all year long.

What day is that, you may ask?

Rodeo carnival day.

The San Antonio Rodeo is in full-swing right now and so yesterday Gulley, Steph, P and I took the kids out to the carnival portion. I could lie and tell you we did it unselfishly for the children, but the truth is we love ourselves a corn dog and some Texas twisters.

(Texas twisters are those homemade potato chips that I’m sure will be waiting for me on a big platter when we get to heaven someday.)

Originally just the moms were going to go, but P found himself with a day off and decided to join in the fun. Which worked out beautifully because it gave us an even number of people who wanted to actually ride rides. That means the kids and P.

The moms had no desire to ride any rides. My love of carnival rides came to a quick and ugly end about three years ago when I got on something called the Tower of Terror. It took four days for my inner ear to begin to function normally after that.

Here’s our group waiting in line for the first ride. It was the gigantic swings appropriately called Vertigo.

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Please note that at this point no one looks like they might want to throw up. That wasn’t the case later on.

Then they headed to the hang glider ride while Steph, Gulley and I sipped Diet Cokes and rejoiced that P had decided to spend the day at the rodeo with us.

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We debated making a break to the Wine Garden and turning it into a real party, but felt like we needed to at least cheer P on as he rode all the rides.

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Eventually we made it to the Sea Dragon. This used to be my favorite ride every year at the Southeast Texas State Fair. But then I rode it two years ago and spent the entire time feeling like I was going to throw up or go flying out of my seat onto the concrete below. Or both.

But Caroline always loved it so I’d make myself ride it while I tried to pretend I wasn’t terrified. Then last year she rode it with Jackson and Will and decided she didn’t like it anymore either due to the feeling that you’re about to be hurled through the air into oblivion. However, P got her back on it this year with the promise he wouldn’t let her fall out. In fact, it isn’t possible to fall out or you’d hear about it all the time.

Or maybe there’s just a vast conspiracy to cover up Sea Dragon related deaths. Maybe it’s a real thing and we’re being kept in the dark.

So she practically sat on his lap and he held her firmly in place and she hated the entire thing. In typical Caroline fashion she got off that Sea Dragon and it was dead to her forever. She doesn’t even know why someone invented that ride. It’s horrible.

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But she recovered quickly and they all rode a few more things before we headed to the real show. The food booths.

Caroline, P and I opted for the corn dog with lemonade. Everyone else went for the sausage on a stick.

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And we all decided against the Glazed Donut Bacon Cheeseburger. And the fried butter. And the fried Kool-Aid which, frankly, seems to defy the basic laws of physics.

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I can’t imagine why some countries think Americans are gross. Why wouldn’t you want a fried pastry dipped in sugared glaze on a meat patty topped with bacon and cheese? Otherwise known as the meal that killed your cholesterol dead.

After the corn dogs, we were in need of a funnel cake. Especially since I’d been thinking about them ever since I saw that truck on the way to Houston. I didn’t get a picture of it because we ate it too fast and if I had taken a picture of the scene it would have been reminiscent of a pack of hyenas with a fresh kill on one of those nature shows.

But Steph decided to try the fried peanut butter and jelly. And I’m here to tell you, it was the sleeper of the day. DELICIOUS. Warm peanut butter? Check. Perfect ratio of jelly? Check. Crispy, fried coating topped with powdered sugar? CHECK.

It was a culinary triumph.

And also the likely reason I had to use soap and water to get my wedding rings off after I got home. Of course the Texas Twisters may have also played a role.

But totally worth it.

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  1. says

    I had to explain to someone up here in NJ what a funnel cake was. Broke my heart. And then I wanted to eat one. Just like I do now after this post.

  2. says

    Riding a ride because your child loves it? You are seriously a rock star Momma! I hate all rides with a white hot terror, and felt I was being sacrifical going on the merry go round with my girls. Anything beyond that and my reaction undoubtedly would have scarred them for life. (Thank goodness for a Daddy who is as crazy as they are!).

    I don’t even like pb and j, but somehow the thought of it being deep fried is suddenly giving me a craving- yum! Sounds like an awesome day:-)

  3. Jill Ann says

    You couldn’t possibly be talking about the awesome Tower of Terror at Disney’s Studios? That ride is sooooooooooo awesome. 😉

  4. Lavonda says

    The Sea Dragon is dead to me as well. It was always my favorite ride but in high school my best friend Kristi and I rode it at the county fair one year – mind you, we always had to sit in the last seat, the one at the apex (bow? stern? whatever it is) of the boat – and we almost died. The bar that locks down and keeps you from meeting Jesus face to face, it came loose just as the boat was really getting some fair Michael Jordan air. We screamed bloody murder and instinctively (survival mode/fight or flight hormones are real) turned around and grabbed the giant beam behind our last row seat and held on as the technician with 2 teeth rushed to turn the ride off. We held that bar for a full couple swings back and forth screaming our heads off, til the boat slowed enough that we could let go and just bawl. (They closed that seat for the rest of the fair. You think?!) Looking back, I’m shocked no one from the fair apologized or even gave us a free funnel cake for our near death experience. We were high school kids. We just went from there to The Zipper and spun in circles in an iron cage to get over it.

    I haven’t ridden The Sea Dragon since that day.

  5. Honey says

    I just love the pictures of P and the kids!! P……first step San Antonio Rodeo carnival… step Disney World!!!

  6. says

    They still have the Sea Dragon at the South Texas State Fair. Nothing says welcome to the fair like a corndog on a stick, a huge lemonade, a bag of fresh made kettle corn, and funnel cake!

  7. Lauren Kelly says

    How fun! LOVE the photos, friend!!

    Melanie- I kid you not, this post brought back some memories for me…..

    My Mom, sister, and I had a girls night at the carnival/fair this past Fall, left me traumatized. I’ve blocked the name of the ride out of my memory and at the age of 28 it left me in tears. I thought I was going to die and this is not me being dramatic. My prayer which I screamed the whole ride was “Lord, if you would just get me off this thing alive, I will continue to do your work and tell of your great name for as long as I live.” That was a legit prayer and all my sister could do sitting next to me on this ride was laugh hysterically. But the funnel cake, it redeemed the whole night for me.

    PS: Did you save me some????

  8. Monica says

    what is up with gulleys younger boy’s hair in that first pic? had he just gotten off a wild ride?

  9. Vicki B says

    I cannot believe the things you do/did for your daughter. You put me to shame. I am the kill joy of rides since the truth about carnival ride safety hit my state after a lack of regulation investigation. I was never the same and consequently neither were my kids’ fun. My neck was seriously thrown out of whack on a Disney ride, something to do with Indiana Jones, and I kept thinking that couldn’t possibly be possible because it was Disneyland. Well, come to find out, they have had many accidents but employee The Gag Order. Whatever fun gene P has is enviable.

  10. Maria D. says

    I have never been to a rodeo like the one you describe…sounds like a blast! Last time I was on a “ride” was at Six Flags and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty and something I don’t ever plan to repeat again – my back can’t take the roller coasters any more and just about everything else either scares me or threatens to scar me for life…lol…the fried PB&J sounds interesting and I would so love a funnel cake!

  11. Angela L says

    We always have good food at the Southeast Texas State Fair…being so close to Louisiana we have crawfish pistolettes, which are delish and more pork kabobs then you can imagine. I don’t ride any carnival rides because I feel like everyone of them are going to fall apart and they make me sick…the continuous spinning in circles is not my idea of fun. Now when Astroworld was open, I was all of those rides.

  12. Katie says

    I’m a chicken and don’t like going on rides anymore, but I do love fair food. Mostly, I’m jealous, because it snowed today here in Idaho. So, I would like your warm weather, and your fairs. We won’t see a fair here for months.

  13. Launda says

    I’m usually just a stalker when it comes to blogs…(unless Ree is giving away something really cool.. I can call her Ree, right? Like i really know her even though we have never met…because I knew who she was before the Food Network Show, right? anybody?), BUT I came to visit because of your post about Downton Abbey. I have spent an enjoyable hour catching up on past posts. You definitely have a new fan, us Texas girls have to stick together, ya know.

  14. says

    Sanford’s has a grilled PB&J on the kid’s menu. My Littlest Girl got it last week. I’m sure some powdered sugar would improve it, but it looked yummy the way it was. They also have fried pickles with your choice of ranch or peanut butter dip. Now, I am not a Southern Girl, but I pretend when I go in there.
    And I would spend my entire life savings for a good funnel cake. Did you know you can get food poisoning from one? I can’t figure out how, but ask me how I know… :(

  15. says

    So funny! I hate the rides now…loved them as a kid. And makes me miss the SA rodeo! So much less crowded than Houston. Love that P is a good sport!

  16. Amy says

    That’s great that P went with y’all! What a good daddy!
    Can you explain young Will’s hair? Is that a side-effect of the Sea Dragon? *grin*

  17. Jeanne B says

    Good grief, here I sit with the wind chill temp at -8 degrees and the wind blowing a gale, looking at your pictures of sunshine and t-shirts. Sigh.

  18. Tara says

    PLEASE tell me you’ve also been to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo??!? As mentioned before, I grew up in Houston & went to the HLSR numerous times each year. There, the food is from restaurants around Houston, in addition to fair food. I loved that I could get fajitas from Pappasitos, BBQ from Luther’s, a margarita from Somewhere else, & a funnel cake to finish it off. Last year when we went to the SA Rodeo, I was shocked to find no restaurant food there with all the incredible restaurants in town! Only fair food. We were let down to say the least.

    • Lanie says

      I’m in Charlotte now. I grew up in Houston. I had nearly forgotten my love for the rodeo until I found a classic country station a few days ago (on AM). I have not been able to turn it off and my accent has returned with a vengeance. My poor children; They do not understand what is so great about the Houston rodeo and why we must vacation to it. This post is certainly not helping me resist the urge to pack up the family! There is something different, more heavenly, about a Texas funnel cake. The oil and sugar must be different. Or, perhaps it a culinary reaction to the Texas air that make it crisp perfectly. I have yet to find an east coast cake that can compare. Nostalgia!

  19. Annette says

    Thanks for sharing the pictures! I am reading Green Sparkly Earrings and am loving it. Was nice to see a picture of Caroline <3 I have not laughed so hard and been so blessed at the same time!! I love fair food!!

  20. says

    Fried PB&J is the most delicious thing ever. They “discovered” them a few years ago at the State Fair and my life has never been the same since. They put bananas on them there, just FYI. Everyone should try one.

  21. momof8 says

    Oh, you need to go back and get that doughnut cheeseburger! I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t eat more than one a year–but it might be amazing!

  22. Stephanie Zapata says

    Well I was at the SA Rodeo on Thursday with 72 2nd graders and I doubt I had the fun you had. I think the kids overall enjoyed the field trip but it was mostly….”WHY ALL the WALKING?…WHEN can we EAT?…MORE walking?…eww WHAT’S that SMELL?…” you get the picture I think. The hardest part for me was not wanting to leave the whole crew with a few parents and run to get some of the wonderful smelling foods that we couldn’t partake in. It was pure torture…by 12:00 I would have loved me one of those donut cheeseburgers or at least a funnel cake. But alas, I had to stay with my class and they wouldn’t of taken kindly to me scarfing down a corn dog while they were whining & crying about all the WALKING and HUNGER!

  23. says

    I am totally with you! I mean where, other than a carnival can you enjoy a batter-covered-deep-fried snickers bar? More than half of the fun of a carnival is the awesome cholesterol laden food! Growing up I aways assumed that’s how everyone felt…but apparently this is not the case.
    I remember not long after my husband and I got married we went to a carnival with my in-laws. I was so deflated when we walked right past all the food without one. single. stop. And on top of that, they commented (multiple times I might add) how good everything smelled. Seriously?!? You brought me to a carnival to SMELL the food!
    *SNIFF*…Yep, I’m full. The smell of that fried oreo put me right over the top.

  24. Christy S. says

    I was at the rodeo on Monday too, and weirdly, I think I saw you and your crew! Can you believe how hot and crowded it got? We thought it was going to rain and instead I got a sunburn!