Our family is in Dalhart, Texas, this weekend for the annual XIT Rodeo.

Hungry for some rodeo?

My in-laws are from Dalhart and are attending their 50th high school reunion, in addition to the XIT Rodeo which triples the population of Dalhart each year during this single weekend. According to the “Thumbnail History of the XIT Ranch” from the XIT Museum website:

The XIT Ranch in the 1880s was the largest range in the world under fence and it all laid in the Texas Panhandle. It’s three million acres sprawled from the old Yellow House headquarters, near what is now Lubbock, Texas, northward to the Oklahoma Panhandle, in an irregular strip that was roughly 30 miles wide.

It covered portions of ten counties which apparently helped perpetuate the misbelief that the brand -XIT- stands for “Ten In Texas”. The brand, in fact, was originated to thwart rustlers.

This map shows the borders of the original XIT ranch:

map of the XIT Ranch

The history of the Texas State Capitol is closely tied to the origins of the XIT Ranch, and is an interesting story to read if you haven’t heard it previously. My wife read Timothy Egan’s book “The Worst Hard Time” several months ago about the dust bowl era in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle regions, so that makes this trip even more meaningful for her. She grew up coming to Dalhart in the summertime to spend time with her grandmother. Lots of family ties on her side of the family to this area and its history. I’m looking forward to learning more about that in the next two days.

I posted some photos from today along with 16 videos from the rodeo tonight to Flickr. (These are all short, since Flickr limits video uploads to a maximum of 90 seconds.)

The ribs and brisket at Hodie’s BBQ in Dalhart tonight were some of the best I’ve EVER tasted:

Ribs at Hodie's BBQ in Dalhart, Texas

We watched the opening night of the rodeo this evening and will be back again tomorrow night for more rodeo action as well as the famous XIT rodeo free barbeque! Of the six or seven bullriders we saw tonight at the end of the rodeo, only one was able to ride the requisite eight seconds and earn a score. Two of the bulls the riders rode were young bulls which have NEVER been ridden before successfully. Those records were NOT broken tonight.

This is one of the bull rides from tonight:

Without a doubt, the biggest surprise of the night was watching this cow milking competition which neither my wife or I had ever seen at a rodeo before:

What fun! It’s not every day we get to watch the world’s most dangerous sport, “live” and “in person” just a few yards away from where we are sitting. Thanks to my Sony GC1 digital camera / camcorder I’m sure we’ll be able to document tomorrow’s events well too. Events like this provide a great opportunity for storychasing!

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