CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For members of the Buc Days Rodeo crew, Wednesday was like Christmas Day. It was their Super Bowl. It was a day they had been awaiting for two years.
"After not having the rodeo last year we were chomping at the bit to turn the lights on," said rodeo chairman Floyd Brown.
But before the bulls kick, horses run or fans fill the stands, the empty American Bank Center's floor has to be filled with the biggest necessity - the rodeo gold or brown dirt.
Volunteers arrive at the arena at 6:30 a.m. with coffee in one hand, breakfast tacos in the other. They are all there waiting to welcome more than 50 truckloads worth of the good stuff.
"It's a lot of fun," said Brown. "It's a lot of work but it's an enjoyable thing to do."
It is a long day. It takes close to 12 hours for the arena's dirt to be unloaded. And then, volunteers grab rakes and shovels to begin filling all the nooks.
"We are usually out of here by five in the afternoon and we will continue to work through the week," added Brown.
It's a glimpse behind the scenes. For the volunteers and workers, they get a first-hand look that this doesn't happen overnight.
"I know what it takes and I think a lot of people don't," said Kent Young, the American Bank Center's vice chairman of operations. "It's a lot of moving parts."
And once the process is over, it's time to take a deep breath.
"It's an exhale knowing that that part is done," added Young.
The dirt is local. It is from the Camacho pit in Corpus Christi.
The first events on the freshly packed dirt will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday for the first night of professional bull riding.