Thursday, February 7, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 88



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 horses.

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 animals. 

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 events for
Monday, Feb. 11.


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