Hats and boots are dusted off. The trail riders are here and there is a sweet fragrance of barbecue and funnel cakes in the air. It is rodeo time in Houston.
To honor the longtime festival of urban and authentic cowboys, Houston History magazine, part of the University of Houston's Center for Public History, has dedicated its current issue to the cowboys, musicians, trail riders and artists that have made up the many years of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Houston History magazine will be available for purchase at merchandise booths at the rodeo.
"(The rodeo) is a part of Houston culture with deep roots into our past," said Joe Pratt, professor and editor of the magazine. "It's a major entertainment event, but it is also a celebration of our region's history and a fundraising event for scholarships that are major investments in our region's future."
The 45-page publication features vintage photos of rodeo performers such as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gene Autry and Elvis, and articles detailing the history of the Texas trail rides.
Writer Jim Saye remembers Mark Storm, a graphic artist in the late 1930s and early 1940s, whose cowboy paintings were featured on the covers of the rodeo programs and whose sculptures are as much a part of Reliant Park as the rodeo itself. Storm died in 2002.
"Storm designed the Lombardi Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl ... his canvases hang in offices, homes and ranches throughout Texas and New Mexico," wrote Saye. "He will long be remembered for his work with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is as it should be."
Texas and the rodeo would be nothing without horses, whether helping to tame the Texas wilderness or high stepping to wild applause. Guest writers Callie Heacock and Ernesto Valdés pen a featured about the history of and preservation efforts for the Spanish mustang (the origin of the word "mustang" is a corruption of the Spanish word for "strayed," mesteňo and mostreňgo).
"(Their) historical importance to the Spanish-Mexican settlements of Texas and ultimately to the colonization of the American West cannot be overstated," the article begins. "Whatever one believes about the Spanish conquest, one thing remains beyond question; a magnificent gift was left behind-the Spanish mustang."
Houston History magazine is published three times a year and strives to be the voice of history and culture throughout the Houston area. It aims to provide Houstonians with the opportunity to learn about all aspects of Houston's history.
"Other cities value their pasts, using history as context for understanding the present, as a magnet for tourism, and as a guide to historical preservation," Pratt said. "It is time for Houston to do the same. Our goal for Houston History is to make our region more aware of its history and more respectful of its past; we hope to contribute to the development of a stronger historical consciousness in Houston."
For more information on Houston History magazine and the Center for Public History, visit http://www.class.uh.edu/hist/public_history/center_for_public_history.html