by John Egan

Talk about a roundup.

In 2014, nearly 2.5 million people attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. And the 2015 version, which will be March 3-22 at NRG Park, promises to attract a herd just as large.

What's the attraction? Let's let Joel Cowley, president and CEO of RodeoHouston, explain:

"Through the tireless efforts of volunteers and staff and the generous support of sponsors and donors, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is able to fulfill its agricultural mission, entertain and educate guests, make a significant contribution to the local economy and assist Texas youth in accomplishing their educational goals."

The Rev. James M.L. Grace, a Houston native, told Southern Living magazine: "The rodeo brings this city together. It brings people of different backgrounds together ... to celebrate the beauty of life and, honestly, to have a real good time."

Many of the good-time-seeking visitors will be stampeding to RodeoHouston to see and hear a Grammy-quality lineup of entertainers. Among the notable musical acts:

●    Eric Church (March 3)
●    Hunter Hayes (March 4)
●    Miranda Lambert (March 5)
●    John Legend (March 6)
●    Tim McGraw (March 10)
●    Zac Brown Band (March 12)
●    Pitbull (March 13)
●    Dierks Bentley (March 16)
●    Ariana Grande (March 17)
●    Florida Georgia Line (March 18)
●    Blake Shelton (March 19)
●    The Band Perry (March 20)
●    Brad Paisley (March 21)
●    Luke Bryan (March 22)

For some folks, that much talent on stage is plenty to keep them occupied and satisfied. But there's much more to RodeoHouston than its star power. Of course, there are the headliners of RodeoHouston-the rodeo and the livestock show. And then there's the World's Championship Bar-B-Que (Feb. 26-28), pitting more than 250 teams against each other in a traditional Texas cook-off. Can you smell that brisket?

If you want to venture away from the world-class barbecue (and heaps of other food) at RodeoHouston, you've got numerous dining options not far from NRG Park. Here's a sample platter of the options:

●    Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar, an eatery serving an array of Japanese cuisine.
●    Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet, a Houston-based chain that dishes out kebabs, falafel, lamb shank, pita bread and other Mediterranean fare.
●    El Tiempo Cantina, known for its Tex-Mex staples.
●    Goode Company Barbeque, which is hailed for its jalapeño cheese bread.
●    Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, a Houston fixture that cooks up New Orleans-style dishes.
●    Pappasito's Cantina, a Tex-Mex favorite in Houston.
●    Post Oak Grill, where you can please your palate with steak and seafood.
●    Underbelly, which allows you to indulge in all things pork.

As for lodging choices, you've got a variety-from inexpensive to luxury-in the vicinity of NRG Park. You can search by area of town on VisitHouston's hotel page.

Learn more about the evolving Houston Convention District at visithouston.com/meetings/.