CowboySpirit.com – The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo dates back to 1896. Back then, it was a small cattle event held on the banks of Marine Creek in north Fort Worth. Today, the celebration of Western heritage runs 23 days and features rodeo competitions, livestock shows, kid-friendly exhibits, and midway and carnival fun, plus plenty of shopping.
Early firsts at the show and rodeo
- In 1905, the first cash awards were given to participants at the Texas Fat Stock Show. The show changed names a few times over the years.
- It cost nothing to get into the festivities until 1907, when a 25-cent fee was introduced. The first formal horse show was added that same year. General admission now runs $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6 through 16.
- In 1908, Northside Coliseum opened as the show’s new home.
- The first parade associated with the annual event took place in 1909 and featured nearly 40 Comanche and Kiowa braves led by Chief Quanah Parker.
- In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson “turned on” the lights at the Coliseum from the White House.
- The show’s first “indoor cowboy riding contest” happened in 1917. Rodeo events were officially added in 1918, increasing attendance significantly. Events included men’s and women’s bucking bronco, plus men’s and junior steer riding. Brahman bull riding joined the lineup in 1920, with bareback-bronc riding arriving in 1927.
- In 1932, the first live radio broadcast of a rodeo took place at the show. NBC had the honor. The network also broadcast the first live TV broadcast of a rodeo from the show in 1958. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans hosted, along with George “Gabby” Hayes.
- The show moved to Will Rogers Memorial Center in 1944, and Gene Autry became the first entertainer to appear at a rodeo.
Today’s Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
The show and rodeo as they are now take place mid-January through early February each year. In 2012, the more than 1.1 million attendees broke attendance records, and the Grand Champion Market Steer went for a record-setting $230,000. More than 1,200 cowboys and cowgirls competed, and 22,000 head of livestock were brought to the show.
Designated proceeds from the annual event fund various grants and scholarships for future agriculture and livestock leaders. More than $20 million has been given to deserving recipients since 1980. To learn more about the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, visit the organization’s website.