The super-size annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo brings millions of visitors, with enough moving parts and volunteers to be considered an ecosystem all its own.
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Whether you’re in a small Wyoming town in July or checking into a Las Vegas hotel in December, you’ll see that a rodeo has a way of changing the energy of a place. Consider the daily adrenaline boost of arena competitions, Western lifestyles, and cultures on display at gatherings and livestock shows; visiting cowboys and cowgirls on every corner; and nightly entertainment designed to keep folks celebrating after the bucking has stopped.
In Houston’s case, its annual Livestock Show and Rodeo brings all that and much more to the sprawling Texas city. By its very design, it changes lives far beyond its three-week run.
“Our mission as a show is to help educate, entertain, and promote the Western lifestyle while remaining true to our agricultural roots. The beneficiary of these efforts are the youth of Texas where we help underwrite college scholarships and community enhancing grants on an annual basis,” says Jeffrey Hayes, a Houston real estate professional serving as one of the rodeo’s 18 volunteer vice-presidents who oversee different aspects of the event. “To date, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has contributed over $475 million to education, and we’ll pass over half a billion next year. The show is proud of its commitment to over $27.1 million over the next calendar year alone.”
Events like RODEOHOUSTON aren’t cheap to produce, so one might wonder how so much can be reserved for educational outreach. Hayes points to the rodeo and livestock show’s long history of volunteerism — thousands of Houstonians help to keep everything running smoothly out of the kindness of their hearts.
With so much of the community getting involved every year, Hayes contends that the event itself has become an evolving representation of the city’s diversity and multicultural identity.
“The show is a great rallying cry for the city of Houston and all of the community as the show attracts volunteers, supporters and fans alike from all walks of life, all socioeconomic backgrounds and professional careers,” Hayes says.
In practical terms, that has called for incorporating A-list entertainment from many different genres into the nightly concert schedule. While country legend George Strait continues his historic relationship with the Houston rodeo by headlining this year, fans will also see plenty of Latin, hip-hop, rock, and pop musicians take the stage.
And on top of the agricultural draws — competitive rodeo, livestock sales, horse show, and more — visitors also enjoy a world-class wine competition, heritage celebrations, a fun run, a parade, and a long-running championship barbecue contest.
Add in the carnival that surrounds the rodeo’s spaces and main arena (Houston’s NRG Stadium), and the Houston Rodeo has the effect of a daily state fair with an optional nightly show. People show up for many different reasons and cater the experience to their interests.
“We want everyone to take part in the traditional rodeo and entertainment lineup that is featured each day, but as the city evolves and we continue to attract a more diverse crowd, the show leadership is committed to broadening the offering of activities and attractions,” Hayes says.
That in mind, we’ve rounded up options for inside and outside the arena that will help you get the full Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo experience.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs February 25 – March 17 in the NRG Park complex. Tickets available here.
Here’s some of Houston’s finest shopping outside the rodeo grounds.
The refined collection at this high-end home store is one-of-a-kind, personally curated by owner and designer Katherine Snedecker, who even throws a few of her own original works into the mix.
While exploring Houston, be sure to visit The Arrangement and experience the rustic-chic & Western furnishing stop along with the new collection of sofas, chairs and dining collection.
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1721 Post Oak Blvd.
Houston, TX 77056
Favor The Kind
The third installment of the Dallas-based boutique beloved for its boho style offers an eclectic collection of trendy gifts, accessories, and apparel you won’t find elsewhere, from heart-shaped cactuses to hand-embroidered tunics. 642 Yale St., Suite C. favorthekind.com
Maida’s Belts & Buckles
This is the spot for artisan belts and buckles, offering an incomparable selection of original designs by top silversmiths such as Jeff Deegan, Greg Jensen, Silver King, and the Bohlin Company.
5727 Westheimer Road, Suite K. maidasbelts.com
It’s a one-stop shop for upscale Westernwear and gifts. Just think turquoise statement pieces, private label pearl-snaps, long tiered skirts, one-of-a-kind buckles, and Lucchese boots. 1717 Post Oak Blvd. in Post Oak Plaza. pintoranch.com
Will Leather Goods
This store is all about artisan leather goods. You’ll find everything from totes and wallets to phone cases and journals to luggage tags and dog collars, all in chic, understated designs that allow the craftsmanship to speak for itself. 645 Heights Blvd., Suite 2C. willleathergoods.com
The brand has built a Texas-size reputation as the best in Western bootmaking, and more than 130 years later, the name Lucchese remains legendary in the Western lifestyle. 4051 Westheimer Rd. lucchese.com
From the January 2019 issue.