The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, also known as RodeoHouston, is one of the world’s largest rodeo and exhibition. It features one of the jam-packed regular season professional rodeo shows, and it is considered to be Houston’s signature event. Aside from the livestock show and rodeo, the event was also able to draw some of the world’s most famous recording artists such as Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, Beyonce, Cardi B, Elvis Presley, Janet Jackson, Justin Bieber, Kiss, Selene Gomez, Taylor Swift, and John Legend. In this article, we are going to learn more about the history of the Houston Livestock Show.
Seven men conceived the idea of creating the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition during the 1930s after they met for lunch at the Texas State Hotel. Their goal was to preserve the cattle industry in the Texas Gulf Coast area. The first-ever show was held in 1932 at the Democratic Convention Hall, however, it was demolished in 1937. That is why in 1938, the event was moved to the Sam Houston Coliseum, where the event organizers decided to add the horse show, rodeo, and downtown parade.
In 1942, the show had its first entertainer, Gene Autry, or also known as the singing cowboy. Since then, the organizers have decided to add musical entertainment to the show permanently. Aside from that, they also added another show, which is the calf scramble program, where several young students try to catch the loose calves. The first student who catches a calf wins a certificate which states that he can purchase a market steer or a registered beef heifer to showcase at the Houston Livestock Show the next year.
News about the Houston Fat Stock Show spread fast and the attendance flagged during the 1950s. In an effort to attract more people, the organizers of the show decided to hold a cattle drive and present their first significant educational scholarship, which they granted to Ben Dickerson. Since then, the show emphasized scholarships and education.
During the 1960s, the Houston Fat Stock Show was renamed to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. They also introduced the now-iconic bowlegged H logo. In 1966, the show was moved from the Sam Houston Coliseum to the Astrodome. This was also the time when the organization behind the show decided to start the School Art Program, which supports young and aspiring artists not just in Houston but all across the country.
In the 1970s, the king of rock himself, Elvis Presley, decided to grace the show’s stage. That same year, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announced that they would have an annual commitment of $100,000 to different Texas colleges in order to support research studies. Four years later, the first-ever World’s First Championship Bar-B-Que contest was held during the Livestock Show and Rodeo.
In 1983, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo exclusively funded the construction of several exhibition facilities on the park grounds. In 1988, the show’s organizers added a 10k and 5k fun run that goes through downtown Houston. People who would join the fun run would have to pay an entry fee, all of which will go to the show’s scholarship fund.
During the 1990s, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo had been expanded to 20 days. Every night, the show featured a rodeo supervised by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or PRCA. The said rodeo offered hundreds of thousands of dollars of prize money. After the rodeo, attendees can see a concert that usually features a famous entertainer.
In 2002, the NRG Stadium was built on the Astrodome grounds. In March that same year, the rodeo held its last show on the Astrodome with a performance by George Strait. The said show was recorded, and it eventually became George Strait’s first-ever live album. In 2003, the 71st Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo celebrated its first year in the NRG Stadium and the NRG Center.
Events to Explore at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
- Go Texan Day – This even is considered as the unofficial kickoff of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It is often held the Friday before the rodeo starts, and it aims to inspire the attendees to celebrate Western culture. They are also encouraged to wear traditional Western attire, such as cowboy boots, hats, and jeans.
- Trail Rides – Traditional trail rides have been a part of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo since 1952. The trail rides range from a dozen to about one thousand people, all riding in horse-drawn wagons or horseback from Texas’s different areas to Houston. The trail rides can last for a few days to three weeks; they all depend on the distance they want to cover.
- Rodeo Run and Rodeo Parade – This event is considered the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s official kickoff. It is usually held the Saturday before the show starts, and it runs through downtown Houston. The parade showcases the members of the 13 trail rides, bands, influential residents of Houston, and even floats. On the other hand, the rodeo run consists of 5k to 10k fun runs, and over 10,000 people sign up for this event. All the money accumulated from this even goes straight to the show’s scholarship fund.
- Concert and Rodeo – Probably one of the most significant events in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the 20 consecutive nights filled with concerts and rodeo.
- World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest – This event is held every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the livestock show beings. It is considered to be one of the largest barbecue cookoffs in the country, and it features more than 250 teams competing in several categories such as ribs, brisket, and chicken. Aside from having the best recipe, contestants have to know how to cook their barbecue on a wood fire because gas or electric fires are not allowed.