Doing this the weekend after Worldcon was a bit rough.
So for those of you who don't know the history, we've been going to the rodeo for something like the last 8 years. When we started, the host hotel was the San Jose
Then the rodeo decided that the fairgrounds wasn't a great venue (it wasn't, it was hot, dusty and boring) and got tired of being jerked around by the Hyatt (which was and still is, as a Holiday Inn, owned by a douche who really hates having "alternative" events in his hotel regardless of whether or not they make money). They moved the rodeo to Driscoll Ranches on the other side of the hill, an hour's drive from San Jose. The next year they moved the host hotel to the Hyatt Rickey's (once in Palo Alto, now torn down), which was a smidge closer, knocking off perhaps 15 minutes of travel time. After losing Rickey's (because it was being torn down) they moved to San Francisco and the Cathedral Hill Hotel. This, unfortunately, killed the Saturday pool party; SF was never warm enough to support it. It also changed the hospitality suite from being hosted and run by the Rodeo to being catered and bartended by the hotel.
I never really liked the Cathedral Hill (although it's much better than the Holiday Inn Golden Gate up the street).
After three years at the Cathedral Hill the association decided to get a hotel in San Mateo, just over the hill from the rodeo grounds and an easy 30 minute drive. They chose the Foster City Crowne Plaza. Some of you may remember this hotel from SiliCon 2003.
We bailed on work early on Friday to try to catch the tail end of the new Friday Afternoon pool party, but between scheduling, packing and travel we got there about 5 minutes before it ended. It was small (unlike the pool parties of the past) but fun, and Mark and Yvette met us at the hotel. Rodeo registration was just getting started, so we could pick up our sponsor badges.
Hospitality once again was in the hands of the Rodeo (and a cute new host), but three years of having the hotel run it meant that things were a bit shaky. Still, while the start was late the suite itself was excellent, with a great bar and lovely nosh.
Once again there was a dance up in the Bayview at the Sundance Association's Sundance Saloon. This time there were shuttle buses from the hotel to the venue, so we didn't have to catch a cab. We spent a little time there, talked with the guys from Homorodeo.com. We also had a few too martinis, so we headed back on the last bus and crashed.
Saturday morning we got up, got breakfast at the hotel (it wasn't impressive) and headed out. We got to the rodeo in time for the last few entrants in Pole Bending. About that time one of the entrants was kicked in the head by one of the animals, so there was a break while additional EMTs showed up. We were also treated to a Reno 911!-style entrance by a San Mateo Sheriff's Deputy (none of us quite got what her rush was, neither the other patrol car that followed nor any of the additional emergency vehicles saw the need for speed into the site). With that excitement over we got back to the real excitement of the rodeo.
Mark, Yvette, lobolance, mettemu, Bryan and jorhett all showed up and we got to see a pretty good day of events. I shot everything from Bronc Riding on through the end of the day, and will be posting pictures once things are sorted.
After the events were over we made our way to Half Moon Bay and found the Miramar Beach Restaurant to have dinner at. It was a bit odd, but the food was fabulous. We ate and then drove back over the hill.
By the time we got back, the Saturday Night Buckin' Ball was in full swing. We all cleaned up and spent a few hours at the ball. On the annoying side, our function rooms were mixed up with a Phillipino 18th Birthday Party that could have given Modesto ghetto lessons. Some of the kids cleaned up well, but some obviously didn't know what "cleaned up" even meant. Still, it was a good time.
Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, only without the too much drink the night before and no more Reno 911! following the inevitable injuries. Mark, Yvette and jorhett came back for another day's events. Sunday was, for the most part, a very good day.
Once the events were over, we (kind of) cleaned up and got ready for the awards BBQ. Of all the changes made over the last few years, putting the awards at the rodeo grounds and having a barbecue caterer come in with food was probably the most inspired. The caterer is good, and it allows things to wrap up in a much more relaxed fashion than the old practice of going back to the hotel for awards. Once again Phil Lucier and Drew Overbeck won the goat dressing buckle, but they weren't there to collect as Drew (I think it was Drew) was getting checked out for a wrenched shoulder when he fell off his horse in barrel racing earlier in the day.
So, while attendance was once again down (blame it on shifting weekends and three years in a San Francisco hotel), this was a most excellent rodeo. The rodeo grounds, while a bit of a schlep, were as beautiful and functional as ever. The Foster City host hotel was a great idea, even if the Crowne Plaza wasn't a great hotel. There are other hotels just off of Highway 92, though, and with a different hotel we could be seeing an upswing again. I can't wait until next year.