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Sea lions and expanded rodeo schedule on tap for 70th Heart O' Texas Fair and Rodeo

Waco Tribune-Herald
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Cowboys on horseback in downtown Waco this weekend will herald the return of the 70th annual Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo, which will feature tried-and-true attractions and a few new ones.

Fair officials Tuesday gave local media a preview of this year’s event, which runs Oct. 6-16 at the Extraco Events Center. The event will see an expanded rodeo schedule and a new sea lion show, as well as the usual attractions of the carnival midway, concerts, competitions and food.

Even before the official start date, livestock shows and contests start this Wednesday, with more than 7,000 entries from more than 5,000 contestants. Heifer move-in will bring life to the fairgrounds at 8 a.m., and livestock shows will take place at the show pavilion starting with Sullivan’s Stock Show U at 4:30 p.m.

Also new this year is this Saturday’s downtown appearance by the HOT Cowboys, who will be passing out fair and rodeo goodies from noon to 2:30 p.m.

Melinda Adams, senior division manager of marketing and sponsorships at the Extraco Events Center, said the downtown area is changing and growing, yet the fair has always existed “on its own little island.” By partnering with Brazos Bluffs Ranch, the HOT Cowboys will bring some of the fun across town, she said.

Sneak-a-Peek Night on Oct. 6 will officially open the fair with the HOT Shops Marketplace, consolidating over 100 vendors inside the Base this year. The night will also host the first of many mutton bustin’ events at the Kids Zone, which Adams said usually sells out within the first 24 hours after Registration is announced.

Admission Oct. 6 will be $5, and rides will be $2.

The Bud Light Stage will host various artists, with opening acts starting at 8 p.m. and headliners performing at 10 p.m. This year’s headliners include Giovannie & The Hired Guns, Aaron Watson and more.

For those music lovers who enjoy a smaller setting, starting on Oct. 7 local musicians will play acoustic sets starting at 6 p.m. Sunday through -Thursday and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the wine and beer garden.

The Hometown Stage, housed inside the Base, will feature local artists and entertainers throughout the week, including multiple dance groups, Baylor Mariachi and the Cutest Cowboy/Cowgirl Contest.

Adams said fair officials are also looking forward to the new Sea Lion Splash, which will feature live sea lions and their trainers in an action-packed session that will require some audience participation.

Attendees can catch the sea lions at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 2, 4 and 8:15 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at the Kids Zone.

Besides the sea lions, other attractions this year include Swashchucklers Pirate Comedy Show and Swifty Swine Pig Races. All attractions and shows are included with gate admission tickets.

The Heart of Texas Fair & Rodeo returns from Oct. 6 to 16 this year, featuring nine nights of rodeo. Instead of the traditional five nights, this year will feature nine nights of One HOT Rodeo events at the Extraco Coliseum. PRCA Permit Finals will be held Oct. 7-9, RAM Texas Circuit Finals on Oct. 11-14, Texas Chute Out Finals on Oct. 15 and the Mexican Rodeo Spectacular on Oct. 16. All rodeo events run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and require reserved ticket seating.

Public parking will be available in various lots surrounding the fairgrounds at Bosque Boulevard and Lake Air Drive for $10. Guests can enter through the front of the fairgrounds on Bosque Boulevard and be directed to the correct lot. The left turn from Lake Air Drive onto Bosque Boulevard will be closed and attendees should not try to enter the grounds that way.

Sea lions and expanded rodeo schedule on tap for 70th Heart O' Texas Fair and Rodeo
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