Gone to RodeoHouston: What’s the backstory of the world’s largest livestock event?

Long Lasting Rodeo Time!

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has officially kicked off their two-and-a-half-week event, where millions will enjoy the rodeo action, livestock shows, and showstopping concerts. But how has this main event developed through time?

In 1931 while Houston was not known for its agricultural roots, that all changed when James W. Sartwelle of Port City Stockyards wanted to address the lack of a cattle market in Southwest Texas.

That is when Sartwelle gathered a group and chalked out a plan to start the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition. While the name “fat stock” is uncanny, it was used at the time to describe when livestock was fat and ready for market.

While the founders probably did not expect the event would become one of the largest events of its kind, according to the website in 2022, total attendance for all activities on the grounds was over 2.4 million.

In 1932, the first show was held at the Democratic Convention Hall. The event then moved to the Sam Houston Coliseum in 1938. In that same year, they added the rodeo, horse show, and downtown parade. It was not until 1961 that the Houston Fat Stock Show became what we now know as the Houston Livestock and Rodeo before introducing the new “Bowlegged H” logo in 1966. “The Singing Cowboy,” Gene Autry was the show’s first nationally-recognized entertainer. Since then, they have featured some exciting, big-name performers such as, The King of Rock & Roll Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Sonny & Cher, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Oak Ridge Boys, Loretta Lynn, and fan-favorite George Strait. The main event is now held in NRG stadium and celebrated its 90th-anniversary last year.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will run until March 19th.

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