Nestled along the banks of the Guadalupe River north of Kerrville near Hunt, Texas, Crider’s Rodeo and Dance Hall was started in 1925 by Walter and Audrey Crider as a Fourth of July fundraiser for the Hunt School P.T.A. The fundraiser became an annual event, and dancing was added after the Criders constructed a dance floor on the banks of the river. By the early 1930s Crider’s rodeo, dance, and barbeque had become a weekly event in the summer months and was popular with guests of Heart of the Hills Inn and nearby summer residents. Initial admission was thirty-five cents for men; women had free admission. After a series of floods, especially a devastating flood in 1932, the dance floor was moved adjacent to Crider’s store and gas station, but after World War II it was constructed to overlook the river. A lighted rodeo arena was added in 1946.
Throughout Crider’s history, there has always been a string band playing the tunes for dancing the ever-popular “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” “Little Brown Jug,” and schottische, as well as the two-steps and waltzes. Notable Texas musicians who have performed at Crider’s include Adolph Hofner, Willie Nelson, Johnny Lee Wills, Floyd Tillman, Charlie Walker, and the Texas Top Hands. Influenced by Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Bob Wills, and others, Wilton Crider, son of the Crider’s Rodeo and Dance Hall founders, has also been a regular performer through the years.
Crider’s closed for a brief period in the mid-1990s after a fire destroyed Crider’s Café and damaged the live oak tree that had become the centerpiece of the venue in 1993. With the help of financier Fred Minter, who purchased a 50 percent share of Crider’s, it reopened on July 27, 1996, after the live oak was stabilized and other repairs were completed, with a rodeo and dance to a crowd of more than 3,000 people. In 2015 members of the Crider family continued to operate Crider’s Rodeo and Dance Hall and carry on the iconic Texas traditions of summer—outdoor rodeos and dances.