Ropes, Riggin’ and Rock ‘n’ Roll
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has been around since Herbert Hoover was in the White House. But the 87-year-old event — which attracts an audience ranging from cowpokes to concertgoers — is bringing folks to Texas like never before. Here are five reasons to grab tickets to this versatile gathering, which returns to Houston’s NRG Park Feb. 25-March 17.
What do Elvis, Kiss and Beyoncé have in common? (They’ve all played the Houston Rodeo). Yes, there are horses. Plenty of ‘em. There are pig races, tractor pulls, calf-roping, even camel rides. But the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has also become one of the must-attend musical affairs of the year, showcasing some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and pulling in fans from across the country. Actor/singer Gene Autry was the event’s first paid performer back in 1942. King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers, once attended in disguise, sporting a fake mustache and a fireman’s uniform to avoid the crowds while he enjoyed the festivities. The Houston Rodeo has since showcased everyone from Ariana Grande to ZZ Top. Per usual, this year’s event offers an eclectic mix of genres. The lineup includes Cardi B, Luke Bryan, Santana, Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown Band, Camila Cabello, Zedd, Luke Combs, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Brad Paisley, and Panic! At the Disco. Collectively, the 2019 performers have received 110 Academy of Country Music awards, 92 CMA awards, 46 GRAMMY Awards, 22 Latin Billboard Music awards and three Latin GRAMMY.
There isn’t a bad seat in the house. Special to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, NRG Stadium boasts a rotating, five-pointed, star-shaped stage that can be raised or lowered at the push of a button. Its 48-foot diameter and 36-foot points allow artists to get closer to the crowd, meaning you’ll be able to see the on-stage artistry regardless of where you sit.
Mutton Bustin’ is a blast. Long a fan favorite, Mutton Bustin’ is a one-of-a-kind competition in which helmet-topped five- and six-year-olds cling to sheep like preschool bull riders around the NRG Stadium rodeo ring. The rides never last much longer than 10 seconds or so, but the ensuing mayhem produced by this unorthodox sport always attracts some of the Houston Rodeo’s most vocal crowds.
The Houston Rodeo is no one-trick pony. In addition to the equestrian adventures and musical offerings, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo offers a full slate events in February and March, among them a carnival, World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, goat-milking, ranching and wildlife expo, Texas Wine Celebration Day, Black Heritage Day, horticulture competition, gospel brunch, rabbit show, Tejano Day Mariachi Invitational, Cowboy Church, and much more. Whew.
It’s downright educational. Since the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo made its debut back in 1932, in excess of $475 million has been committed to Texas youth. More than 2,300 students are currently on rodeo-gifted scholarships, attending more than 80 different Texas colleges and universities. The value of these scholarships is more than $50 million.