The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo is one of the top Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) rodeos in the United States. It includes horse and livestock shows, live music, educational activities, a carnival, and shopping. Over two million visitors attend the event each year in February. This event which was established in 1949 is also known as San Antonio Livestock Exposition, Inc. (S.A.L.E.) and has attributed to over 6,000 volunteers who give countless hours to the organization. Joe Freeman is the man responsible for starting the movement of introducing youth and agricultural and livestock industries in the 1940s. His dream was to build a coliseum, which is known today as the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum, to be used for a number of events, but specifically, a livestock exposition for the youth of Texas.
One of the main reasons why the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has been so successful is due to the impact their events have made in the community over the years. Out of an annual operating budget of about $30 million, approximately $12.2 million was raised last year to benefit youth through scholarships, grants, endowments and other educational programs. Since the youth programs began with the first stock show in 1949, more than $160 million has been donated. The San Antonio Rodeo is one of the top competitions for the professional rodeo circuit, drawing competitors from as far away as Brazil and Australia. 2015’s purse was $1.68 million, the largest and highest paying regular season of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s rodeos.
Rodeo-going has become a tradition for San Antonians as well as for visitors who travel for the experience and it seems immune to economic downturns. The rodeo is a bonanza for shoppers, with more than 600 retailers selling everything from cowboy boots to candied Texas pecans. Food and beverage offerings include funnel cakes, corn dogs, brisket and other barbecue favorites at the Van de Walle Fajita Corral (plus a lot more) and food and wine pairings in the Wine Garden. At the end of the day, attendees also know their good time is supporting a good cause. There are millennials who do a good job of demonstrating their excitement and appreciation for the rodeo on social media networks. While the history of rodeo ties in with the San Antonio’s roots as a cowtown, planners and marketers have made the event resonate with each new generation.
What’s so unique about this rodeo? Well, this rodeo is an annual event which means it doesn’t get old for the crowd to attend. The rodeo allows for families to get away and be able to spend some quality time together and enjoy something with animals and nostalgia, history, which is the Old West, and of course the stock show.
Let’s not forget the cowboys who are heavily involved in the event. Their roles are iconic and San Antonians seem to be entertained with the cowboys being present in the rodeo. The San Antonio rodeo has an event that dedicates an entire day to their younger crowd. The “Youth Day” is one of their special events.
During Youth Day, 4-H, FFA, & FCCLA members from across Texas gather together to showcase their organizations, activities, and project work. These members set up exhibits and interactive activity booths for young visitors attending the Stock Show & Rodeo. Children are treated to enjoy arts and crafts, games, demonstrations, sweet treats, and educational activities. The San Antonio rodeo is successful due to their willingness to please their younger crowd.
Another exclusive event the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo hosts is the Trail Ride, which has more than 3,500 riders give up the comforts of home and take the liberty of horseback riding and in wagons. From 11 locations in South and Central Texas, these riders promote fellowship and horseback riding as they make their way to the Rodeo with the ride concluding in grand fashion inside the AT&T center Rodeo arena. This kind of event reminds the attendees how much fun horseback riding can be especially with their family and friends involved.
The rodeo in 2016 included participants such as Fort Hood 1st Cavalry Division, Texas A&M Parson's Mounted Cavalry, Fort Sam Houston Caisson and of course, a herd of Texas Longhorns to ride in the Western Heritage Parade & Cattle Drive. These are credible participants who make this event worthwhile to attend. The Boy Scout/Girl Scout Day has participating troops from both organizations engage in a day of educational and fun-filled activities for the whole family including a scavenger hunt through the Cowboy Boot Camp, Animal Adventures, Texas Wildlife Expo and the Horse Education Center. It’s safe to say that the San Antonio Rodeo categorize their younger crowd as one of their priorities and make sure to gain the approval from them.
Cowboy Church is an opportunity for fellowship during a non-denominational worship service held on Sundays during the Stock Show & Rodeo at the Auction Barn. This event includes speakers as well as gospel bands for the audience to enjoy. For those who are spiritual as well as passionate about cowboy gospel music, this would be considered an ideal event to appreciate.
All of these events and activities the San Antonio Rodeo offers is what they consider their main attractions and it encourages the community to gather together and have fun. Everyone remembers to appreciate all the animals who participate in the rodeo as well as the people who are a part of committees that construct the entire event.