Chuckwagon cooking is coming to downtown Austin Friday morning.

Staring at 6 a.m. Friday on the lawn of the Long Center, Rodeo Austin officially kicks off with its annual Cowboy Breakfast, a free event that features pancakes, authentic chuck wagon biscuits, doughnuts, brisket tacos and more, as well as western-themed entertainment, live music, a trick roper, a longhorn and two-stepping lessons.

R.C. Glover holds the reins of Route 66, an 18-year-old longhorn who was available for photographs and short rides at last year’s Cowboy Breakfast at the Long Center. The event is free and open to the public, and kicks off Rodeo Austin every year. KELLY WEST / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The breakfast ends at 9 a.m., and then the food fun heads out to the Travis County Exposition Center east of Austin. Even though the official rodeo doesn’t start until March 11, the fairgrounds and carnival are open this weekend.

Friday afternoon, the expo center will host the first half of the two-day BBQ Austin competition. More than 100 teams will compete Friday and Saturday in categories for ribs, chicken, beans and traditional sides.

After the barbecue competition, you can catch fireworks and live music on Friday night and four bands on the stage Saturday afternoon and evening.

Admission to the carnival and fairgrounds ($8 for adults, $5 for kids) includes samples from the competitors. The fairground gates open both days at 11 a.m., but the BBQ Austin part doesn’t start until 4 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the barbecue competition starts at the beginning of the day and into the afternoon. Parking costs $15 at the gate.

Proceeds from BBQ Austin go toward Rodeo Austin’s mission of Promoting Youth Education – Preserving Western Heritage. In 2016, Rodeo Austin awarded nearly $2 million to the youth of Texas.

Trick roper Kevin Fitzpatrick winds up his rope before demonstrating a lasso trick at the Cowboy Breakfast last year. KELLY WEST / AMERICAN-STATESMAN