From left: Brady and Zane Carruth, Rita and Tom (quick-on-the-PR-draw) Madden

Rita and I spent a rodeo romantic weekend in Houston.  It was so delicious, and I don’t mean just the food, but all the exuberance, Texas hospitality and the phantasmagoria of action, competition and entertainment we enjoyed immensely at the truly awesome Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™!

It was a heady combination of out-of-this-world scrumptious, scintillating, and exhilarating eats ‘n greets, watching hard-ridin’ cowboys battling buckin’ bulls and broncos, chasin’ and ropin’ steers climaxed by a superstar shows, like the pulsating concert we saw performed by the fabulous Ricky Martin, one of many featured over the 20-day rip-roaring event known as The World’s Largest Rodeo, which just may be a gross understatement.

We were guests of the “First Lady of the Rodeo,” the charming and personable Zane Carson Carruth, author of the popular children’s book ABELLA Goes to the RODEO,” flying off the shelves there as she took us on a beguiling guided tour of many mind-blowing exhibits and breath-taking events like watching livestock literally coming to life, little chicks pecking their way out of shells into a colorful western world and children having the time of their life petting and feeding their love to a bevy of joyful farm animals giddily surrounding them.

Zane’s tall, soft-spoken, much-admired husband Brady Carruth is chairman of the board of the organization that runs the exciting, uplifting annual event. He’s like a modest Sheriff John Wayne leading a pro bono posse of many thousands of volunteers who corral sponsors and round up hundreds of thousands of devoted fans from all over to attend the event, which raises millions of dollars for scholarships and other charitable giving.

One of many highlights was sitting across from Zane in an open, horse-drawn carriage entering the giant stadium as fans wildly applauded the kickoff of the main event. It was so fun waving back to so many smiling faces in the huge crowd.

Each year, more than 800 scholarships are awarded to Texas students by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, one of the largest scholarship providers in the U.S., as the Rodeo has presented more than 20,000 scholarships valued at $260 million since 1957.


Rita and I walked around bustling downtown Houston. I was still wearing my curly-brimmed cowboy hat that I had purchased at the rodeo to look more at home among all the other tall Texans wearing similar manly headgear. Then Rita and I had another exhilarating experience. 

Just after a sumptuous lunch at Pappasito’s Cantina where we sipped through straws frozen Gulf of Mexico-size Margaritas until our cheeks almost caved in, we went for a leisurely walk in the busy park nearby where amid all the surrounding tall buildings we saw a towering church steeple protruding skyward, seeming to beckon us.

Walking towards it, we came upon a somewhat beaten up, yet still glorious attraction, Annunciation Church, but it was closed when we arrived on this Saturday afternoon and all locked up, pending Masses later in the day.  We noticed signs in front of the church condemning abortion, which looked like they were bashed in or was it a gunshot that made that big hole?  Also, the windows around the majestic church looked like they too had been battered. 

We walked around to the back of the church where I saw a priest just exiting and shouted to him:

“Father, can we look inside?”

He smiled, walked over and unlocked the gate so we could enter, then led us inside the magnificent church and turned on all the lights so we could behold all its towering beauty and majesty. 

Known as Mother Church of more than 50 parishes, Annunciation was the second Catholic Church in Houston established in 1839.  Its beautiful memorial windows, impressive frescoes and other art treasures that Father Felix showed us have been added over the years by parishioners grateful to worship there.

What a weekend we had, from a howling successful rodeo to a quiet holy church.   Houston has it all!  God bless Houston! 

Besides a veteran blogger, Tom Madden is a former journalist and an author of countless published articles and five books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available April on Amazon.   He is the founder and CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.