For the next three weeks, Reliant Park will be transformed into a country & western mecca, from commercial and junior livestock exhibitions, the world's largest rodeo, and an entertainment fare featuring rising artists and perennial superstars. Leroy Shafer is chief operating officer with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He says it's like having 21-consecutive Super Bowls in Houston.
"Recent economic impact study done by Barton Smith at University of Houston showed that we're worth nearly three quarters of a billion dollars annually, in increased spending in the Houston area. We're responsible for over 700 annual new jobs in the city of Houston. There's just nothing that comes in here that has this kind of economic impact."
More than 2,200 students attending colleges and universities on rodeo scholarship.
"Our annual committment to youth and education is running about $24 million dollars. Right now, we've given over $330 million dollars to youth of Texas since we sold that first grand champion steer in 1932 for $504 dollars, and gave away that first $2,000 dollar scholarship in 1957."
Reliant Stadium has been outfitted with a stage and lighting, and the chutes and pens are in place. Meanwhile, Patti Lewis and other commercial exibitors are busy getting their booths ready at Reliant Center. She says she's been coming to Houston for 20 years.
"We do go from rodeo to rodeo, but this is the largest rodeo, and we just came back from Denver, and we have a hug following in Houston and we got a lot of money in Houston."
Hernandez : "Is is fun or is it a challenge to keep up each year?"
Lewis : "It's fun. I buy specifically for Houston. When I go to market I thinking, I may not carry that in Colorado, but I have all the Texas people. These women dress, they dress up I mean, everybody comes out here dressed to the hilt, and so they wanna buy my stuff."
Saturday's parade featuring more than 6,000 trailriders will begin by the Hobby Center. Once again, Rodeo C.O.O. Leroy Shafer says the event has no equal.
"Today we're the largest livestock show, we're the largest rodeo. So, it's traditional. We celebrate our western heritage and culture. It's educational but more than anything else, it's just fun."
You can find more information at RodeoHouston.com.
Rodeo Vendor Patty Lewis, showing off the goods she will be selling at the rodeo