Final year in Dome is
HLS&R's 70th birthday
By Melissa Ragsdale
Daily Cougar Staff
For 70 years now, the Houston Livestock
Show and Rodeo has been a Houston tradition. About 13,000 volunteers annually
give their time
and talent to produce the world's largest
livestock exhibition and entertainment event.
This year it celebrates its 70th anniversary,
and its final year at the Astrodome.
Kusum Desai/The Daily Cougar
After 70 years, the Houston
Livestock Show & Rodeo has become an attraction for people of all ages.
It all started in 1931, when seven men
met for lunch at the Texas State Hotel and created The Houston Fat Stock
Show and Live Stock
Exposition. Since this was established,
the Livestock Show & Rodeo has reinvented the entire livestock, sport
rodeo and entertainment
The motto of the Houston Livestock Show
& Rodeo is "Benefiting Youth and Supporting Education." In 1957, the
scholarship program was
established and for 45 years has given
over $85 million in scholarships to the youth participants in the rodeo.
We all know it as a bunch of kids chasing
calves and wrestling them to the ground, otherwise known as the "Calf Scramble."
This event alone
has awarded more than $6,608,250 for the
purchase certificates bought after each kid raises the calf to a full-grown
beef or dairy heifer.
Now, more students will have the opportunity
to apply for scholarship money through this program since the restriction
limiting contestants to
agriculture or life science study was
lifted in November. This means they can now major in any authorized field
of study leading up to a
bachelor's degree. Not only does this
affect future scholarship recipients, but also students already attending
Texas universities and colleges
on Show 4-H and FFA Scholarships.
The blue-ribbon competition had 32,158
entries last year, making it the largest in the world. Some of these events
start and are judged as
early as 6 a.m.
Currently, the Houston Livestock Show holds
the records in these junior market categories: Steer, Turkey, Swine, Lamb,
and Pen of Broilers.
There are six different breeds of horses
featured: Palomino, Quarter, Arabian, Half Arabian, Appaloosa and Paint
Without animals, the rodeo may have never
even begun. It would probably be just another concert or festival event.
But the fact is that there are thousands
of animals involved in the rodeo every year and so it is as much about
them as it is about cowboys.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
has adopted very strict rules and guidelines for the treatment of all the
For example, dull spurs are used in the
bareback, saddle and bull riding events. Also, there is strict regulation
of the use of the strap, which
stimulates bucking action, so that there
must be a quick-release buckle, and no sharp or potentially harmful objects
are ever in the strap.
The animals in the show are recognized
as athletes and, therefore, it is also understood that, as with any athletic
competition, there is the
chance of injury. The Rodeo does everything
it can to ensure no animal or cowboy is harmed; however, there are some
things out of its
For that reason, there is always a licensed
veterinarian in the event that an animal is accidentally injured to ensure
the safety of all the
In Houston alone, the local economic impact
is to the tune of more than $206 million. Visitors and investors from all
around the world come to
Houston and spend money at the rodeo.
Last year, the attendance based on ticket
sales was 1,382,183. The only other fair or festival in North America that
is larger than the rodeo is
the State Fair of Texas.
This year, the Houston Livestock Show and
Rodeo will begin today and run through Sunday, March 3. There are no scheduled
Monday, Feb. 11.