It's official, folks. Rodeo party season is here. Proof positive was the suede- and Stetson-bedecked crowd of more than 700 that packed a party room at Reliant Center on Friday night. While there have been a few committee meetings and small gatherings to date, the annual Hide Party stands as the first big hoorah of RodeoHouston.
And there was plenty of noise to be made not only with the two-steppin' sounds of Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters but also with the cheers for the high rollers who brought 2012 steer auction proceeds to an all-time record level — more than $4 million. The Hide Party serves as buyer's appreciation night for those big spenders.
Putting on the big howdy for top buyers (those committing $5,000 or more per steer) were Steer Auction Committee chair Sam Ayers, vice chairman Steve Estes, RodeoHouston board chairman Steve Stevens Jr. , RodeoHouston vice president Mike Wells and more on the popular committee. Their generous spending generated enough funds for 59 college scholarships.
The evening proceeds with a meet-and-greet, seated filet mignon dinner catered by Frankie B. Mandola, official video thank-yous to top buyers, presentation of the hides and then all that dancing.
Receiving mega kudos for their big checks were buyers of the Grand Champion ($460,000), a group that included Denise Bush Bahr and Philip Bahr, the Champagne Cowgirls, Dee Dee and Wallis Marsh, and Paul Somerville with Kristina Hornberger (engaged in the fall). Also in the spotlight was the Grand Reserve Grand Champion buyer group that included Vanessa and Chris Bruegger, Judy and Chuck Bruegger, Sally and Rigo Flores and Mary Alice and Ed Lester.
Kicking up their heels as rodeo season begins were Marilyn and Rex King, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Gayelynn and Stuart Zarrow, Lesha and Tom Elsenbrook, Denise Montelone, Greg and Rita Fodell, Shelley and David Reeves, Beth Madison and Danielle and John Ellis.