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Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, also called RodeoHouston, is the world's largest livestock exhibition as well as the richest regular-season PRCA rodeo event, held at Reliant Park in Houston, Texas, USA. In 2010, attendance reached a record high of 2.2 million[1], requiring more than 22,000 volunteers. In 2007, the Rodeo was deemed "the year of the volunteer."[2] The event is 20 days long. It is kicked off by the Downtown Rodeo Roundup held near Houston City Hall, the Downtown Rodeo parade and the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run - 5k walk & run and the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. The Show features championship Rodeo action including bull riding, livestock judging, concerts, a carnival, pig racing, barbecue and the Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition, shopping, sales and livestock auctions. Traditional trail rides, which start in different areas of Texas and end in Houston, precede the Rodeo events.[3]. The City of Houston celebrates this event with Go Texan Days, where residents are encouraged to dress in western wear for the duration of the Show.

The rodeo has drawn some of the world's biggest stars and music legends including Elvis Presley, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Selena, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd.


Concert performers

File:Sheryl crow at houston livestock show and rodeo.jpg
Sheryl Crow at Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, 2007

The wide variety of entertainment at The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has proven to be a popular feature of the event, as it caters to a multitude of tastes. Previous performers include country, rock, blues, Tejano, and pop musicians, stand-up comedians, and even actors.

2009 Entertainment Lineup

2009 Music Performances
Date Artist Attendance
Mar. 3 Rascal Flatts 59,401
Mar. 4 Alan Jackson 54,943
Mar. 5 Clay Walker 48,224
Mar. 6 Gladys Knight and Solange 49,474
Mar. 7 Trace Adkins 60,000
Mar. 8 Jonas Brothers 72,475
Mar. 9 Lady Antebellum 44,758
Mar. 10 Toby Keith 49,471
Mar. 11 Reba McEntire 55,681
Mar. 12 Brad Paisley 62,291
Mar. 13 Clint Black 50,641
Mar. 14 Josh Turner 58,179
Mar. 15 Ramon Ayala and Alacranes Musical 74,147
Mar. 16 Darius Rucker 49,411
Mar. 17 Keith Urban 61,613
Mar. 18 Gary Allan 62,836
Mar. 19 Pat Green 55,336
Mar. 20 Taylor Swift 72,058
Mar. 21 Brooks & Dunn 72,412
Mar. 22 ZZ Top 64,048


2010 Entertainment Lineup Records

Date Artist Attendance
Mar. 5 Mary J. Blige 72,150
Mar. 7 Jonas Brothers with special guest Demi Lovato 72,013
Mar. 14 Pesado and El Trono de Mexico 74,222
Mar. 18 Black Eyed Peas 73,073
Mar. 20 Brooks and Dunn 72,977
Mar. 21 Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez 72,883


Go Texan Day

The Friday before the Parade is also known as "Go Texan Day," where the entire population of Houston is encouraged to dress in Western attire, such as jeans, cowboy boots, and cowboy hats. While the concept was discussed in 1938 by the General Manager of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, it wasn't until the 1950s that it finally was put into practice. In 1954, Archer Romero chaired the first Go Texan Committee to encourage what would later become a Houston tradition during the rodeo.[6]

Rodeo Parade

In 1937, planning had begun for the first Rodeo Parade leading up to the 1938 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The first parade was headed by Mounted Police and various dignitaries on the city, county, and state levels, who also rode horseback. There were two bands with a Drum and Bugle Corp.

In 1952, the Salt Grass Trail ride was the first trail ride that was formed by only a few men. The following year, the publicity from that ride attracted more people to join.

All of the Trail Riders converge on Memorial Park to camp out for the night before heading down Memorial Drive to where it empties out onto Texas Ave to line up for the parade.

The parade has approximately 115 different groups joining in the festivities. There are 15 trail rides, 20 floats, 15 commercial wagons and stagecoaches, and 10 to 15 university and high-school marching bands in addition to Show officials, other elected officials and dignitaries on horseback and in vehicles.[7][8]

Trail Rides

The Trail Rides (cavalcades) are a long tradition with the rodeo and gather at Memorial Park to camp for a rest and party before the big Annual Rodeo Parade through Downtown Houston.

  • Salt Grass Trail Ride - 85-mile (137 km) ride from Cat Spring, Texas, established in 1952
  • Sam Houston Trail Ride - 66-mile (106 km) ride from Montgomery, Texas, established in 1955
  • Old Spanish Trail Ride - 216-mile (348 km) ride from Logansport, Louisiana, established in 1956
  • Prairie View Trail Ride - 102-mile (164 km) ride from Sunnyside, Texas, established in 1957
  • Valley Lodge Trail Ride - 72-mile (116 km) ride from Brookshire, Texas, established in 1959
  • The Spanish Trail Ride - 112-mile (180 km) ride from Coldspring, Texas, established in 1961
  • Texas Independence Trail Ride - 92-mile (148 km) ride from Brazoria, Texas, established in 1961
  • Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride - 386-mile (621 km) ride from Hidalgo, Texas, established in 1973
  • Southwestern Trail Ride - 100-mile (160 km) ride from Brazoria, Texas, established in 1974
  • Northeastern Trail Ride - 108-mile (174 km) ride from Beaumont, Texas, established in 1982
  • Texas Cattlemen’s Trail Ride - 85-mile (137 km) ride from Anderson, Texas, established in 1986
  • The Mission Trail Ride - 210-mile (340 km) ride from San Antonio, Texas, established in 1990
  • Southwest Trail Ride - 120-mile (190 km) ride from Rosenberg, Texas, established in 1993

World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest

The World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, also simply known as "The Cookoff," started in 1974 and has consistently drawn massive attendance numbers for the three-day event, drawing 217,640 visitors in 2009. It takes place on the southern parking lot of Reliant Stadium, with over 250 teams participating every year, and is generally considered a "Hot Ticket," as most are for members or by invitation only. While the event is open to the general public, those that can get into the tents are generally allowed an unlimited amount of food and beverages. [9] [10] [11]

BBQ Attendance Figures
BBQ Contest Attendance 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Thursday 25,459 25,627 15,946 29,570 21,113 28,415 30,421 33,568 34,223
Friday 56,459 61,564 39,532 60,580 61,735 50,929 66,850 70,121 76,889
Saturday 78,813 84,237 89,098 93,189 57,188 67,481 93,642 103,460 106,528
Totals 161,219 171,428 144,576 183,339 140,036 146,825 190,913 209,313 217,640

The Calf Scramble

Since the addition of the event in 1942, it has been one of the more popular events during the actual rodeo. The event features 14 calves and 28 students who must try to capture one of the calves, put a harness on it and bring it back into the "winners square" in order to claim the win. One of the rules is that as long as a contestant is actually in the act of holding the calf (i.e. Holding it by the tail) to get the harness on, no other participant may interfere unless the calf wriggles itself free. It's at this point where the calf is fair game once again. The event is held nightly between major events in the Reliant Stadium. Each of the students who catch a calf is awarded a $1,250 certificate to purchase a registered beef heifer. Raising and showing this heifer becomes a yearlong project as the scrambler sees to the grooming, feeding and care of the animal. The exhibitor returns to the Houston Livestock Show the following year for a special competition. Calf Scramble exhibitors receive a $250 bonus when they return to compete with their heifer, totaling their $1,500 certificate.[12]


With a daily average attendance of the Rodeo of about 50,000 people [13], the city's transportation infrastructure is taxed as it must also compete with regular Houston Rush Hour on regular business days. There are a variety of ways into and out of the complex that include Park and Ride lots in certain parts of the city that are provided by the event as an express straight onto the property, Taxi, Self Parking, and METRORail.[14] The Coordinators of the event try to persuade attendees to use public transportation as the most convenient way to and from the Rodeo.

Attendance Records

File:Reliant Stadium Houston Rodeo.jpg
Interior of the Reliant Stadium at the 2006 HLSR
Top Five Attendance Figures
Rank Year Artist Attendance
1 2010 Pesado and El Trono De Mexico 74,222
2 2009 Ramón Ayala and Alacranes Musical 74,147
3 2009 Jonas Brothers 74,000
4 2007 Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus 73,459
5 2008 The Cheetah Girls and Hannah Montana 73,291
Show Attendance History
Year General Attendance Rodeo Attendance
1982 1,095,155 646,735
1983 1,095,730 597,783
1984 1,014,550 592,403
1985 1,070,276 537,802
1986 1,120,796 547,763
1987 1,107,822 564,911
1988 1,194,179 640,117
1989 1,242,288 717,541
1990 1,323,865 784,483
1991 1,366,598 827,037
1992 1,501,818 928,304
1993 1,568,266 973,318
1994 1,616,113 985,871
1995 1,810,007 1,068,447
1996 1,830,265 1,061,344
1997 1,788,437 1,013,100
1998 1,769,359 923,313
1999 1,853,650 #1,101,507
2000 1,889,861 #1,101,478
2001 1,382,183 #1,031,570
2002 1,563,662 #1,091,955
2003 1,745,351 #1,215,913
2004 1,890,174 #1,126,092
2005 1,740,095 1,127,239
2006 1,688,103 1,115,558
2007 1,806,129 1,176,436
2008 1,802,158 1,206,551
2009 1,890,332 1,182,128
2010 *2,144,077 *1,264,074

(*) denotes all-time attendance record (#) denotes paid attendance figures beginning in 1999 (actual turnstile figures were reported through 1998).


1931 : First established as The Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition.
1932 : First Show is held at the Sam Houston Hall.
1938 : Moved to new location: Sam Houston Coliseum.
1942 : First star entertainer: Gene Autry, "the Singing Cowboy"; calf scramble event added to the Show's rodeo.
1952 : First trail ride (Salt Grass Trail Ride) commences from Brenham, Texas.
1957 : First major educational scholarship ($2,000) awarded to Ben Dickerson.
1961 : Name changes to Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
1966 : New location: Astrodome complex; Astrohall built for Livestock Exposition.
1970 : Research program launched committing $100,000 annually in support of research studies at various universities and colleges in Texas
1974 : The first World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest. Elvis Presley sets attendance record of 43,944. On his second show, on the same day, he breaks his own record drawing 44,175, for a one-day record 88,119
1975 : The Astroarena is completed.
1977 : Four-year scholarships increased from $4,000 to $6,000.
1983 : Four-year scholarships increased from $6,000 to $8,000.
1989 : Scholarship program expands to Houston metropolitan area.
1992 : Four-year scholarships upgraded from $8,000 to $10,000 retroactive to all students currently on scholarship.
1993 : Latin superstar Selena breaks attendance record at the Astrodome by drawing a crowd of exactly 57,894 fans.
1994 : Latin superstar Selena sets another attendance record at the Astrodome by drawing another crowd of 60,081 fans, breaking her previous record.
1995 : Latin superstar Selena holds famed Astrodome concert with over 67,000 fans, again, breaking her previous records
1997 : Rodeo Institute for Teacher Excellence is created as a 3-year pilot program with $4.6 million in funding; websites www.hlsr.com and www.rodeohouston.com introduced.
1998 : Number of 4-H and FFA scholarships increased to 60 per program, totaling 120 four-year $10,000 awards.
1999 : Number of 4-H and FFA scholarships increased to 70 per program, totaling 140 four-year $10,000 awards; Opportunity Scholarships awarded based on financial need and academic excellence.
2000 : Rodeo Institute for Teacher Excellence extended another 3 years with another $4.6 million; Reliant Energy acquires naming rights for the Astrodomain; renamed Reliant Park includes the Reliant Astrodome, Reliant Arena, Reliant Hall, Reliant Center and Reliant Stadium.
2001 : Largest presentation of scholarships to date, with 300 four-year $10,000 awards through the Metropolitan, Opportunity and School Art scholarship programs, totaling $3 million.
2002 : George Strait sets paid attendance record for any Rodeo event in the Reliant Astrodome with 68,266; Reliant Hall is demolished.
2003 : New location: Reliant Stadium and Reliant Center; Carruth Plaza, a Western sculpture garden named in honor of past president and chairman, Allen H. "Buddy" Carruth, completed at Reliant Park.
2006 : Brooks & Dunn break rodeo attendance record set by Hilary Duff in 2005 with 72,867 in attendance.
2007 : The Cheetah Girls sell out in just three minutes and set a new rodeo attendance record of 73,291.
2008 : Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus set another attendance record of 73,459
2009 : Ramon Ayala and Alacranes Musical set the all-time paid Rodeo attendance record on Go Tejano Day, with 74,147 in attendance for championship Rodeo action, concert entertainment and the Mariachi finals.
2010 : Black Eyed Peas Perform on March 18, 2010 with a total of 73,073 guests.

==See also


External links


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