Houston Rodeo returns for Spring 2015 season


Tiffany Wade , Reporter

It is that time again when country and non-country lovers alike get ready for the 2015 Houston Rodeo.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, as it is officially called, has been around since 1932, which is when the first show was held at the Democratic Convention Hall. However, it was first established in 1931 as The Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Expedition. It was not until 1961 that it was changed to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and then RodeoHouston in 1996.

Once the Democratic Convention Hall was demolished, the show was held at the Sam Houston Coliseum in 1938. Then the show moved to the Astrodome, which held 25,340 spectators 28 years later. That same year the historical landmark, the Astrohall, was beginning to go under construction and has been expanded several times throughout the years to provide more exhibit space. In 1986, the show decided it was time to spice up the performance stage by creating a 40-foot turntable and some lighting enhancements. The rodeo began broadcasting on pay-per-view eight years later to gather a wider audience. In 2000, groundbreaking ceremonies were made for the new Rodeo Houston and NFL stadium and two years later the NRG stadium was demolished and used for parking. More show enhancements were made in 2009 to improve the performer’s show, which included three 20-foot long and 10-foot wide walkways, and LED screen systems.

The first rodeo, horse show and downtown parade began in 1938. Four years after that, the first calf scramble was included into the rodeo performance. Then the trail rides began, ten years later, while four men rode on horseback.

A student received the rodeo’s first educational scholarship of $2,000 in 1957. Thirteen years afterwards, the show started up a research program with an annual amount of $100,000 to Texas colleges for research studies. In 1977, the four-year scholarship amount rose from $4,000 to $6,000, and by 2012 it reached up to $18,000 each. That same year, the yearly educational commitment exceeded $24.6 million and the educational commitment to the Youth of Texas exceeded $330 million. Military and rising junior and senior scholarship programs were also set up that year.

In 1963, the School Art Program began to display their rodeo art, and it was not until 1996 that the first School Art Auction took place. The champion wins over $100,000 while the reserve wins over half of the amount that the champion receives. The world record for the grand champion was $210,000 and the reserve world record was $196,000. Through the Opportunity and School Art scholarship programs, 300 students received a four-year $10,000 award for a total of $3 million in 1999.

The first famous singer to perform at the rodeo was Gene Autry performing, The Singing Cowboy. Some of the other recording artists including Kiss, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Brooks & Dunn, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Selena, Bon Jovi, ZZ Top, Taylor Swift, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more have performed at the Rodeo in the past. In 1970, Elvis set the all-time attendance record with 43,614 spectators in the crowd until George Strait brought in 62,936 in 1996. Six years later, George Strait brought in 68,266 people in the NRG Astrodome and the next competitor was Kenny Chesney in 2004 bringing in 70,668 people. In 2005, Alicia Keys had 72,065 and Hilary Duff performed after her with 72,843 people. More artists continue this trend of bringing in more people to attend their shows.

This year the performers for the show are Eric Church, Hunter Hayes, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Alan Jackson, Fall Out Boy, Justin Moore, Tim McGraw, Brantley Gilbert, Zac Brown Band, Pitbull, Billy Currington, La Arrolladora Banda El Limon, La Maquinaria Nortena, Dierks Bentley, Ariana Grande, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, The Band Perry, Brad Paisley, and Luke Bryan. The performances are every day from March 3 to March 22 in the order that they are listed, with La Arrolladora Bands El Limon and La Maquinaria Nortens both performing on the same day.

As the years go on every performer seems to bring in more spectators and the rodeo continues to grow.