HOUSTON, Texas (KETK) – It’s been a long time coming as many sit in line overnight to walk into the barn and unload their equipment and cattle at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Students spend several weeks to months preparing their projects to get ready for the show in hopes of placing and winning prize money they can put toward college endeavors.
The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo released a statement Wednesday stating the event would be canceled. That’s thousands of dollars these students and parents have put into their livestock project trip including entry feed, entry fees, hotels, gas, and food.
“And those kids who have put in that time and put in that money into those projects to bring them, they are now not going to reap the rewards of that, and that’s one area where we are seeing a major concern,” said Skyler Shively, Smith County Agriculture Extension Agent.
One student from Chapel Hill High School has been showing livestock for the past nine years and is disappointed to be missing out on her senior year at the Houston show.
“Devastating, it had been rumored that there would be something, maybe shut down the rodeo and the concerts but never the livestock,” said Kara Pinkerton, a livestock exhibitor.
Pinkerton was lucky as her family heard the news of the cancellation on their way to the show and was able to turn around and head home. For several others, that was not the case and had been sleeping in their trucks until they unloaded early this morning just before hearing the news.
“These cattle left the house, you know we figured this time yesterday or maybe a little later to be here,” Shively said. “And the kids were in line last night, started unloading at four or five this morning and some of these cattle didn’t get into the barn until close to noon today.”
He mentioned that many are concerned not only for the animal’s health but for the health of exhibitors and drivers. Thankfully, the Humble Civic Center opened its doors to allow for livestock and families to rest until they are able to make the journey back to East Texas on Thursday.
Because many exhibitors won’t have the chance to sell their project and get the prize money, one local breeder predicts the announcement to change the show market for 2020.
“That’s going to cut down on the number of kids that are coming through buying cattle and getting their project for next year,” said Trevor Brown.
Just one day before Houston canceled their events, Rodeo Austin released a statement saying they would continue with their livestock show and rodeo. However, many exhibitors are worried that it will change in the coming days.
“And that’s the chatter in the barn and you walk down the aisle and hear people talking about it now because a lot of exhibitors will enter a project for Houston and then enter it for Austin as well just as a backup,” said Shively.
Nearly 20 youth are showing from Smith County and with the Smith County Junior Livestock Show approaching on April 1, the SCJLS Board will be making a decision soon on how to incorporate these students because entries have already closed.