Shelby's Social Diary
How suite it can be for the well connected at RodeoHouston
So we didn't arrive in one of the scores of stretch limos or stretch Hummers that RodeoHouston fat cats hired Monday night for transport to Reliant Stadium. We saw almost as many of those as we saw F150s and Silverados.
But we did watch the opening night calf scramble, bull riders and Alan Jackson from one of the swell suites where the high-falutin' party is invitation-only. Schmoozing with top rodeo officials in their cushy cocoons gives the rodeo experience the same elan that a Lear Jet gives air travel. There isn't anything better.
We were the guests of Paul Somerville, past Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo board chairman, a gracious man who belies the misguided stereotype of blustering rodeo regular. (And he would never go anywhere in a stretch Hummer.) Somerville invited a mix of guests that ranged from rancher and former Houston Oiler Ray Childress and wife Kara to Methodist Hospital gastroenterologist Dr. Gulchin Ergun.
Even Joanne King Herring, recently returned from attending Charlie Wilson's burial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, was there in her interpretation of Western chic. Requisite dress for women in the suites is some tony combo of suede, fringe, denim, embroidery and buckets of silver and turquoise. Herring dressed up her basic black with a leopard-spotted western-style hat and yards and yards of matching beads.
Grazing through the buffet offerings in the suites is a far more elegant culinary experience than chowing down on fried White Castle burgers in the midway or the chili dogs and nachos served at Reliant food stations. On this night, Barry Silverman was the first to go for the fried chicken legs and biscuits. Jana Arnoldy raved about the mac 'n cheese dish. Somerville's executive assistant Miriam Westmoreland had selected the menu that included savory barbecued sausage, ribs, brisket and pork.
For those risking the calories, brownies, lemon squares and ice cream sundaes beckoned. The sundaes are offered on a rolling cart that trolls the hallways of the suites tempting everyone with the array of toppings and ice cream flavors.
Socializing back and forth between the suites is part of the rodeo action which explains the constant flow of notables in and out of Suite 274. Former rodeo board chairman Don Jordan and wife Barbara passed through as did executive board member Ed McMahon and venerable rodeo honcho Louis Pierce Jr., the 93-year-old HLS&R board veteran. Somerville's guests included John Scott "Scotty" Arnoldy, Shara Fryer, Robin King and Marilyn Lummis.