Rodeo Vendors Set up Shop on Fairgrounds, Talk About the Essence of the Event
Piles of flags and stuffed animals lay scattered around colorful tents on the Coliseum and Spur Arena grounds Thursday afternoon as ‘carnies’, delayed by the winter ice storm, made final preparations for the Carnival opening at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Friday.
Numerous rides, concessions and game tents dotted the lot as men and women shined carousel horses, hung signs, and set up booths boasting fine fair foods such as ‘vittles’ roasted sweet corn on the cob, turkey legs and ice cream. Among them was Randy Coleman, owner of San Angelo Limousine, and for the next two weeks comfort food extraordinaire.
Coleman owns Randy’s Hot Box, and will be serving mac’ ‘n cheese, salads, wraps, bread pudding, chili and soft drinks next to other vendors on the fairgrounds. His ‘box’ is a bright yellow ’75 Airstream he’s converted into a full kitchen. In the past, the hot box has been seen around town and at the museum, but this is his first year setting up at the rodeo, to which he has special ties.
“My dad was the founder and director of the Hereford Heifer Show here for 47 years before he died,” Coleman said. “My grandfather, when I was a little kid, we went to every performance at every rodeo. We had our own booth and everything. My family goes back with this rodeo since it first started.”
Although he’s a vendor this year, Coleman says for him, the essence of the rodeo remains with the animals. He remembers growing up with his father, Dawson Coleman, and attending each performance every year.
“It’s just fun. If you go back into the history of how these things got started, it was sort of like parades or anything else. This was before internet, before TV—this was a form of entertainment,” he says. “ I go back very classic—yes, it’s all fun like this, but since my dad was all about the livestock and everything else, that’s the reason this all exists, it’s all about the livestock.”
Dawson Coleman was the Director of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) for many years, and also taught agriculture classes. According to Randy, his father described raising livestock as a means to teach youth a life lesson on patience and respect for animals. The objective in raising livestock, Coleman says, is to turn a good profit when the animals go to market. Youth start out with calves, baby rabbits, and so forth, and as they grow, so does their natural obstinance. One learns then to be patient with the animals in guidance, rather to respond with violence.
The stock show and rodeo, Coleman says grew out of the farming and ranching trade. “You think about these events—they’ve got the bull riding, the bareback riding, the calf roping and all that, but all those were things that people did on their ranches back in the 1900s. It’s like the winter Olympics. The winter Olympics got started because they were in the snow, they were learning how to use their skis and all of that…they were very basic events that got turned into a competition,” he said.
Coleman grew up on a ranch, and although he admits to not having to much to do with riding or roping himself, he does remember the outings to the annual stock shows and rodeos each year. Coleman’s grandfather, Sam Gray of Bronte, was a rodeo competitor back in the 1920s.
“My grandfather, when it was rodeo time, he went out and bought a brand new suit, bought a brand new cowboy hat. This was the event you went to, and we went to every performance of every rodeo. It was a special event,” he said.
The San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo will take place from Feb. 14 through March 2. Keep up with the LIVE! coverage on our rodeo page.
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