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The Rodeo: An Icon of Houston Culture and Community

Image by Visit Houston.

Peaking at over 2.5 million visitors this year, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) turned the city into a unique, frenzied spree of Texan culture that is unreplicable anywhere else.

Stepping foot onto the grounds of NRG stadium you are immediately engulfed in the Rodeo and Texan spirit. The sound of boots clicking as they hit asphalt quickly turns to white noise as you near the carnival and livestock show. Cowboy hats dot every corner and top the heads of Houstonians dressed head to toe in Western wear. Screams of carnival rides and the smell of freshly smoked Bar-B-Que slowly consume your senses as you step foot through the gates of the grounds into the culmination of year-long rodeo excitement.

Every year, the HLSR turns NRG Stadium into a jam-packed combination of carnival fun, Texas tradition, and live concerts that draw visitors from around the world to Houston, Texas. The annual event epitomizes the Houston spirit that is diverse yet rooted in Texan culture. From the livestock show to carnival rides and games and thrilling concerts, the HSLR has it all and brings together all ages of Houstonians.

The HSLR began as a small Fat Stock Show and Livestock exposition created by seven men in 1931 who hoped to preserve the cattle industry in the Texas Gulf Coast Area. Over the decades, the Show and Exposition slowly transformed into notable additions to the event. For example, the World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest was established, and infamous celebrities such as Elvis Presley graced the Astrodome stage. By the 90s, the HSLR had grown into a worldwide event, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as well as other world leaders, attended the affair, adding to its popularity and notoriety. From there, the HSLR continued to expand, growing into the form we see today as it adopted NRG stadium as its new home and now brings in more than 2 million people each year with some of the music industry’s biggest names. 

This year, the HSLR began in February with trail riders coming through Houston, signifying the beginning of this yearly event. Then, from Feb. 22 – 24, the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest took place, drawing in competitors from across the country to show off their delicious food and compete for a shot at being deemed the best at Bar-B-Que. The cook-off alone drew in 234,000 guests across its just three-day span. From there, the Livestock Show, Rodeo, and Carnival all kicked off on the 27th and lasted until March 17, bringing in over 100,000 visitors daily. The rodeo/concerts also corralled in more than 1.3 million attendees as notable performers like the Jonas Brothers, Nickelback, and Bun B took the stage. All legs of the HSLR resulted in the attendance of a whopping 2.5 million guests and would not have been possible without the 35,000 volunteers who were the backbone of the event.

As another successful HSLR comes to a close this year, one can reflect on how truly unique this event is. With its 2.5 million visitors signifying its inclusivity and iconic stature, no other event captures a city’s distinctive characteristics in the way the HSLR exemplifies the diversity and interconnectedness that make Houston so special.

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About the Contributor
Asher Deutsch
Asher Deutsch, Reporter
Asher Deutsch is a senior at the Emery/Weiner School and this is his second year writing for The 9825 and his second year as a reporter. Asher is actively involved in the Emery/Weiner sports program, playing for the lacrosse team for the past three years, and is a member of Emery’s MUN (Model United Nations) club. In addition, Asher enjoys playing basketball outside of Emery and spending time with his four dogs.

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