So…full disclosure: Crider’s is not actually in Kerrville. It’s in Hunt.
It lies to the west, past some wonderful river crossings and the famous Hunt Store, where the burgers are as juicy as anywhere else but at “anywhere else” they don’t taste as good. And if you’re looking for things to do in Kerrville on a Saturday night between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and you don’t go to Crider’s Rodeo and Dancehall, you might as well watch an ice-cream cone slowly melt in your hands. It’s just as pleasant an outcome.
Don’t miss it, and here’s what in particular not to miss.
“Spelled with a rope”
To get there, first don your favorite snap shirt, then drive north from Kerrville on Main Street, which turns into Junction Highway.
Of course, Google Maps will get you there best, but here are some important notes for your brief ride (about 20-25 minutes depending on how fast you take the winding turns along the river):
- Rodeo starts at 8pm, but you really want to get there at 7pm, or at least 7:30 to ensure you get a halfway decent seat. Parking is in a dirt lot, so ladies, better get those ropers on just like the cowboys have. The seats are bleacher style. Concessions include sodas and snacks. (At the dancehall, there’s a more full menu, covered below.)
- Junction Highway, which is really Route 27, veers Northwest in Ingram and will take you past The Outpost, a classic AA clubhouse if you’re looking for that before or after your night at Crider’s. (Believe me, you’re not alone, brother/sister.) But it also won’t get you closer to Crider’s.
- You want to keep to your left at the fork and go on TX-39. If you pass the Ingram Fire Department on your left a few yards down, you’re on the right road.
- A little farther and you’ll pass Stonehenge II. Such fun!
- Along TX-39 there are plenty of B&Bs; and lodges. I once stayed in the “glamper” at Casita Blu. One of the saddest weekends of my life, but at least the space lessened the emotion. I think if I ever become a roaming writer, I will choose a camper like this, pimp it out, and stay at cool places. Near a river. Or a beach. Yeah, preferably a beach.
- You’re going to pass some camps and feel like you’re more in the country because of the lushness around you, but before you know it, you’ll get to some river crossings. IF THERE ARE FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS, TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. About seven miles along TX-39, you’ll come across Shumacher Crossing. A fun place to soak up the sun and the Guadalupe. Here is information on that one and more.
- After the intersection of FM-1340 and TX-39, you’ll hit the Hunt Store. It’s worth a stop, if not to see it or have dinner, then at least to pick up a few snacks for the rodeo.
- A few more miles and you’ll reach Crider’s on your left.
Crider’s, “spelled with a rope.”
That’s the way my in-laws introduced me to it, and that’s the way I typically tell others about it.
That phrase needs to stand alone.
Because after the young cowgirl rides out holding an American flag flapping in the wind along with her blonde hair, after we sing the national anthem, and before the rodeo starts in earnest, there’s mutton bustin’.
Basically, it’s placing a youngin’ — boy or girl — onto the back of a soft missile, otherwise known as a small sheep, telling that youngin’ to hold on tight, and letting ‘er rip. The kid who stays on longest wins $20. Second prize is $10. My middle son won $10 one year. My oldest son, perhaps 8 at the time, went first and when the sheep stumbled at full sprint and fell on top of him, he got up, a bit dazed, and in answer to the Rodeo Clowns asking him how the ride was, he said into the microphone, “I can’t remember if I had breakfast.” Not really the answer to the question, but it doesn’t matter: he was fine, everyone laughed, and he has a good story.
The rodeo is fairly standard but still exciting fare: bronco busting and/or bull riding, and barrel racing. The cowboys are truly impressive, especially so since many of them — apparent later when they’re not wearing helmets and still visible through the flocks of girls surrounding them — are quite young. Old teenagers, really.
After the formal rodeo, they have a calf round-up for the kids. Perhaps 50 or 60 kids under 15 years old or so will chase a calf and try to pull a ribbon off its tail.
I’ve been to the Houston Rodeo, the granddaddy of them all, and I prefer Crider’s, because there’s no place you’re going to get closer to the action.
The “hall” is a large concrete dance floor with a taste of sawdust. It’s not to be missed. At the south end was/is a live oak tree that for many years stood on its own, then was propped up with cables and reinforced with concrete, and now be gone. I haven’t been out there yet this season. (Crider’s opened only six days ago.)
Line dancing and two-stepping are the steps of choice. And if you don’t know how to two-step, don’t let that get in the way. Just make your way onto the dance floor with your baby and let the music and starlight take you away.
There are live bands almost every weekend. Chris Salinas opened last weekend and a full list is here.
Food and drink
You might want to reserve a table if you plan to bring a group of four or more and to eat/drink a while.
Standing isn’t bad, but on a crowded night, there aren’t a lot of places to put your beer bottle down. (Recovered folks: until recently, they had N/A beer — I think it was Old Milwaukee (I’ve never had that anywhere else); otherwise there are soda options.) They do make a mean hamburger; worth trying.
An evening under the stars
When looking for things to do in Kerrville, don’t forget that within a mere 20 minutes, you’ve got Fredericksburg to the east and Hunt and Crider’s to the west.
And though it’s only a few miles, it will feel like the true west. The old west.
Texas at its finest.