HOUSTON, TEXAS —
In spite of the old image of long, tall Texans in 10-gallon hats, most people in the Lone Star State do not wear cowboy hats very often. When it's rodeo time in Houston, though, the hats are everywhere.
There's a saying here in Texas about someone being "all hat and no cattle." At the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, plenty of people have both hats and cattle.
But more than 80 percent of Texans now live in urban areas. The rodeo gives them a chance to get into the cowboy spirit.
Women especially seem to enjoy it.
"I love western wear, and I love the rodeo, and I normally come 10, 12 times," said one woman at the event.
"I'm just dressed up for the rodeo," said another woman.
"I wanted to come to the concert, and I wanted to dress like this," said a young girl who was there.
If you don't have a hat, there are plenty on sale.
You can even have one custom-made by Oklahoma City's Shorty Koger, but you'll have to wait.
"We are five months out right now, but if you just made one hat, it would take a full week," said Koger.
This woman is trying on hats that are made of beaver fur. She said they last a long time.
If you need your hat cleaned and re-shaped, John Garcia is the man. He steams them.
"It gives it the ability to change the hat's shape, make it tighter or dip it down a little bit more," said Garcia.
Kansas rancher Harold Ralston knows how to judge a cowboy's hat. "If their hat is nice and clean, it just came out of the box, like this one. I got this one when I retired."
Another fellow who has spent years under a cowboy hat is movie actor Buck Taylor. He also paints western scenes and sells them at events like this.
"Cowboys never ridicule or make fun of anyone who wears a cowboy hat. I ranch up in northwest Texas, near Abilene, and I love that lifestyle," said Taylor.
Taylor was a regular on the TV series Gunsmoke in the 1970s. He loves the old western styles, like in his painting of rodeo riders a century ago.
"They were more flamboyant back then. I think we have kind of mellowed compared to these guys," he said.
Taylor said people who put on western wear for events like the rodeo are keeping that heritage alive.
So it doesn't matter if you don't have cattle. At the rodeo, you can wear a hat.