For two weeks each February, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo takes over the Alamo City, transforming the area around the AT&T Center into a mecca of western tradition, exciting entertainment, educational opportunities, community service and a LOT of animals.
By Angela Rabke :: Photography courtesy of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo
While the enthusiasm for the rodeo extends throughout the city, many folks don’t know that the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo is a 501(c)3 nonprofit volunteer organization “that emphasizes agriculture and education to develop the youth of Texas.” Since the organization’s inception, over $186 million has been given to educate Texas youth. And according to a 2015 economic impact study by Trinity University, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has created a cumulative impact on the City of San Antonio of over $250 million.
For all of the good the rodeo does for the community, it’s also straight-up FUN. With over two million visitors each year, people of all ages revel in opportunities to shop, eat, learn and be entertained at the world’s best rodeo. In fact, San Antonio’s has been named the PRCA Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year for 13 consecutive years — an honor that is completely unprecedented. In the rodeo world, this is the equivalent of winning an NBA National Championship for 13 years. According to Lauren Sides, the Communications and PR Manager for the rodeo, “No PRCA sanctioned rodeo has ever received the designation back to back for 13 years. Rest assured, rodeo goers will always see the best of the best here. Not only the top bucking stock, but also rodeo athletes. The Rodeo of the Year award by the PRCA is considered the highest honor in the sport of rodeo worldwide because nominees and winners are voted on by PRCA rodeo contestants, stock contractors, contract personnel, committees and members. What sets us apart from other rodeos in the circuit are the over 6,000 volunteers that work endlessly to meet the high standards of the PRCA rodeo community, their legendary Texas hospitality and uncompromising commitment to support our mission.”
And there are so many ways that kids benefit from the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. Livestock and Art Auctions financially reward students for their hard work, students from all over South Texas learn about agriculture and livestock through field trips and the greater community jumps into the opportunity to enjoy the grounds. “There are a few new attractions coming on the grounds this year that you will want to check out,” says Sides. “Step into the Butterfly Encounter exhibit and you will be surrounded by hundreds of butterflies all while learning about the butterfly lifecycle. You can also get up close and learn more about the official large mammal of Texas at Texas Longhorns 101. For something more thrilling, there will be a variety of high energy attractions alternating throughout the event such as Pompeyo Family Dog Show, X-POGO and Chicago Boyz.” There is so much to do that there’s almost not enough time, so the organization has new extended hours on Thursdays — Shops at the Rodeo, food and select attractions are open until 10:00pm with live music until midnight.
The rodeo itself is hours of entertainment, and packages thrilling rodeo events like barrel racing, team roping and bull riding together with top notch performances by country, classic rock and comedy artists on the famous rotating stage in the middle of the arena. “Artists such as Brett Eldredge, Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson are some of the stars that are great for the country music fans, and if you want to take a step back into classic rock, you can see Foreigner and Goo Goo Dolls,” shares Sides. The most enthusiastic fans can get up close and personal, and enjoy the music with the Star Experience ticket. “This is perfect to enjoy some of our Texas hospitality. For only $200 each, you will receive a reserved Rodeo performance seat in the ‘Fan Zone’ — stage-side seating on the ‘dirt’ during the concert, a first-class catered meal, two drink tickets, complimentary parking and a commemorative chair,” says Sides.
For many guests, the upbeat acts that occur at the beginning and throughout the rodeo performances are their favorites. “Before the Rodeo officially begins, visitors are treated to our grand entry, which includes the Palomino Patrol Drill Team, a group of riders galloping at high speeds around the arena, and the Palomino Patrol posting our colors. These beautiful palomino horses and riders are decked out from nose to saddle, toting the American flag.” Later, everyone has a laugh when the next generation of rough riders hits the Rodeo arena for the Mutton Bustin’ competition. The audience goes wild as young rodeo contestants take a thrilling ride on the back of a sheep, attempting to hold on for six seconds under the big lights of the AT&T Center. Mutton Bustin’ takes place during every Rodeo performance, excluding the Finals — and if one Rodeo performance isn’t enough, guests can take advantage of the Final 5 package. With this package, you can catch the PRCA semi-finals and finals, followed by the last five evening music acts of the Rodeo. This provides the best seating available and the same seat for all performances.
Visitors can feel good about the time and money they spend at the Stock Show & Rodeo because of the profound impact it has on the youth of Texas. Sides says, “The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo is comprised of a family of people who volunteer their time and resources and are committed to the well-being and betterment of their community. Over 6,000 hard-working and loyal volunteers that serve on 45 committees are the heart and soul of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo; they are the foundation by which over 60 years of success has been built. They work tirelessly to plan and conduct the Stock Show & Rodeo each February as well as the annual events that are held in support of the main event. Contributing countless hours each year, the volunteers are the driving force that supports the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo’s mission.”
For more information, visit www.sarodeo.com.