Each year, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo puts on a livestock show along with their usual events like bull riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, and the always entertaining post-rodeo concerts from the likes of Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn. In 1966, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo moved from the Sam Houston Coliseum to the Astrodome complex and the same year, the show’s organizers built the Livestock Exposition Building in the Astro hall.
Over the years, numerous students in the Houston area have received scholarships for their work in FFA and 4-H programs that coincide with the annual livestock show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In recent years, the show has moved into the all new Reliant Arena and Reliant Center near Reliant Stadium, the home of the new Houston Texans.
Last year there were more than 33,000 entries in the overall competition including owners of rabbits, horses, sheep and cattle. Some of the world’s most renowned judges come to Houston to choose the best of the best and more than one million visitors are expected this year for the 2010 edition of the contest. The competition is split into two halves with the first half composed of professionals and the second half highlighting the work done by Texas’ best junior exhibitors. In the first half of the contest, professional ranchers and breeders are looking global recognition and top dollar while in the second half, Texas 4-H and FFA members bring their best work and dedication to the contest. Contestants looking to enter into the junior portion of the contest are responsible for grooming the animals themselves and raising them on their own. They must also fall into the age requirement of 8 to 19 years old as established by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
In 2008 the Show increased its scholarship awards from $12,000 to $15,000 and 537 received nearly $8.1 million in scholarships for use at Texas colleges and universities. Also in 2008, the Show increased its commitment to the Rodeo Institute for Teacher Excellence with a $1.5 million commitment helping to train teachers to teach reading support skill from pre-k to third grade levels.
The junior’s show reaches its finale with the junior market auction program where the exhibitors sell their livestock for prices well above the market value. Cattle, sheep, swine, goats, horses, and rabbits are the most common entries in the annual competition but there are so many species and types of each animal that many juniors and professionals go home as champions.
The livestock show itself goes on for almost the entire duration of the rodeo with numerous “events” and judging is going on simultaneously. There are also numerous sales and auctions going on at various times on almost every day for those not necessarily interested in waiting until the junior market auction to purchase or make a bid on livestock.