Trail rides and wagon trains converge in Houston to kick off world’s largest rodeo

In a salute to the Old West, 13 trail rides and wagon trains–some coming from 336 miles away–have converged to mark the start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which runs through March 20th. The world’s largest exhibition and rodeo entertainment show was developed to “encourage and promote the breeding, raising, and marketing of better livestock and farm products at public fairs and to promote and maintain research and educational functions within the livestock industry.” I recently posted about a similar agricultural and livestock fair in Paris, so happily, these events are global.

Three thousand participants rode from five days to three weeks to reach Houston, carrying on a tradition that began in 1952, when a small group of men started a trail ride to help promote the rodeo. The riders and wagons pay tribute to the heritage of the frontier, and the animals and individuals who made the settlement of the West possible. But the ride is also a form of education. In addition to the settlers, some trail rides are dedicated to honoring the history of black and Hispanic cowboys, which many are unaware of.’s blog interviews a number of participants, some of whom have annually made the ride since childhood, or are second- or third-generation riders. One 15-year-old girl was actually born on the ride. Eighty-year old Mac Goldsby of Houston has been doing the Valley Lodge Trail Ride since its founding in 1959. “To me, it’s walking history,” he says. “There’s so many people that don’t know about horses, mules. If anything, it might inspire them to read history.”

The Houston event has inspired others to host trail rides to promote their shows and educate the public, such as the Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo in Mississippi, and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Hats off to preserving America’s Western heritage, and keeping tradition alive.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Bill Gracey]

Blizzard forces delays and cancelations at Denver airport

Is it just me or is it a little early for a winter snowstorm?

The Denver International Airport (DIA) had to cancel flights yesterday due to blizzard conditions. It was just too difficult to keep runways and taxiways clear, so United canceled about 200 of its 400 flights departures and arrivals, and Frontier canceled 19 of its 155 departures. Passengers on flights that had been delayed find themselves waiting one to four hours.

As of yesterday afternoon, about a foot of snow had dropped since Tuesday evening. But the wind — with 20 to 40 mph gusts — is actually the greater threat, rather than the snow.

The two east-west runways have been closed, but the other four north-south runways remain open.

Anybody with a flight scheduled into or out of DIA should check their flight status before going to the airport.

The battle for bankrupt Frontier Airlines is over

The battle for bankrupt airline Frontier is over. And no, it isn’t Southwest airlines that purchased them.

During a bankruptcy auction, Republic Airways won, and will pay $108.75 million for the airline, adding them to their existing lineup of airline brands.

Republic Airways operates as Midwest Airlines and Mokulele airlines, as well as a whole list of feeder airlines like Delta Connection and United Express.The airline currently operates 228 airplanes, and flies 1400 flights daily.

Frontier operates a 51 plane Airbus fleet. During the bankruptcy, Frontier operated as normal, and the purchase by Republic means this won’t be changing any time soon, which is obviously good news.

Could Southwest Airlines buy Frontier?

Southwest Airlines (WN) announced that it was putting a bid in for Frontier Airlines (F9) last week, a move that could significantly increase the airline’s market share in the west of the Mississippi. Frontier, the struggling Denver-based low-cost carrier that filed for bankruptcy last year, will be taking bids for the remainder of its company until Monday.

With the $114 million bid filed, Frontier will start sorting through contenders this week.

So what if it works out? Frontier would become part of Southwest airlines, Denver would lose one more competitor and hopefull the airlines and employees would merge from the bankrupt carrier to the most profitable carrier in the country.

Routes that Southwest takes over would suddenly be governed by the low-cost-carrier’s agressive pricing schema, meaning that cities currently covered by Frontier may see some more competitive prices to Southwest destinations. As for Denver, however, without WN competing with F9, prices could go up. At least they’ll still have plenty of non-stop routes available.

We should know more about whether Frontier accepts Southwest’s bid in the next few weeks.

Check out the well-made video from Denver NBC station 9NEWS after the jump.

Could Budget Airlines Unite?

A recent post on Ben Mutsabaugh’s Today in the Sky blog focused on statements made by Frontier Airlines CEO Sean Menke. Menke told a Denver newspaper: “I have been very vocal about (low-cost carriers) having to be aligned through some form or fashion…and not necessarily through mergers.” That’s not a surprising statement from a Frontier exec because of his airline’s buddy-buddy relationship with fellow budget carrier AirTran. The two help each other with ticketing, destinations served and promotions.

But the current economy and gas prices may make Frontier’s approach to the budget game a model for other LCCs. While some airlines, like Southwest, have the clout to challenge the big boys on their own, most carriers are finding their low-cost business model in jeapordy. Alliances could help when it comes to ticket sales and frequent flier programs, but also with the costs of using airports. A band of small carriers could agree to make a LCC hub at all major airports, sharing gates, ticketing counters, even employees. Helping each other a little could keep them all in the game longer.