back in the saddle

RodeoHouston to Donate More than $21 Million for Education

Last month the organization announced it would be cancelling the 2021 Open Show to focus on the Junior Livestock Competition.

By Catherine Wendlandt November 10, 2020

Young people show cattle during the 2019 Livestock Show.  

Updated 10:50 a.m. Dec 1

After the year RodeoHouston has had, we can’t help but wonder how the organization was planning to get back in the saddle for 2021. Well, last month Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officials announced that it was foregoing the 2021 Open Show livestock competition to focus solely on the Junior Show and Youth Show events (see more below). And today, we’re learning more.

On December 1, Rodeo officials announced the organization is committing $21,691,500 in statewide educational programs in 2021. About 65 percent ($14.1 million) of the total funding will be distributed out in 800-plus scholarships for students seeking a four-year undergraduate degree (learn more about the application process here).  

The rest of the money will be doled out through Junior Show exhibitor aid ($5.01 million), graduate assistantships ($472,390), and educational program grants ($2.02 million).

Grants will be given out to 50-plus universities, associations, conservancies, and other organizations across the state. Some of local groups receiving help include Alley Theatre, Memorial Park Conservancy, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, Camp for All, and the Houston Zoo. 

“Despite a heartbreaking early closure in 2020 and the difficult months that followed, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo remained committed to its mission of promoting agriculture and supporting Texas youth and education, and we hope today’s announcement is a bright spot in a challenging year,” said Chris Boleman, RodeoHouston president and CEO, in a statement.

Published 1:25 p.m. Nov 10

After this year’s dramatic cancellation of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo mid-rodeo, we all figured the 2021 event was going to look different, we just didn’t know how. Now, we’re learning more.

On November 5, RodeoHouston officials announced they were foregoing the 2021 Open Show livestock competition to focus on the Junior Show and Youth Show events.  

“Our efforts will be focused on providing a safe experience for our Junior Show exhibitors in 2021, which aligns with our mission of promoting agriculture and supporting Texas youth,” said Chris Boleman, Rodeo president and CEO, in a statement. “Our Open Show exhibitors are an integral part of our Show every year, and this decision was not made lightly, but with the health and safety of all our exhibitors and guests at the forefront of our decision.”

According to officials, focusing on the Junior Show allows for RodeoHouston to spread out the events over time, which limits the number of people on site at any given time and keeps with health and safety guidelines. Given Texas is currently seeing another surge in Covid-19 cases, the numbers of which would’ve been thought to be preposterous when the rodeo was first shut down last March, this seems prudent.

So, while the adults won’t be able to do their thing, the kiddos will still be able to compete in the usual competitions, including Breeding Beef Heifers, Breeding Gilts, and Breeding Sheep. Other in-person contests include Ag Mechanics, Archery, Industrial Craft, Junior Commercial Steer, and Young Guns Shooting Sports.

Additionally, some events, like the Ag Science Fair and public speaking contests, will be held virtually.

Oh, and there’s no need for additional drama—the youth llama and alpaca shows are still happening.

Junior Show entries open November 15 and close December 15. More details about 2021 RodeoHouston events, scheduled for March 2–21, 2021, as well as event-specific health and safety guidelines, will be released in December.

“While our 2021 Livestock Show might look different amidst COVID-19,” said Boleman, “we are optimistic that we will be able to welcome back our Open Show exhibitors to the Rodeo grounds in 2022, and give them the experience that they deserve and expect at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.”

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