Since the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition was established in 1931, it has made an impressive footprint on the livestock and entertainment industries and in the sport of rodeo. It also has played a notable role in enhancing the lives of thousands of young people in the state of Texas.
The many milestones celebrated throughout the years have all contributed to Houston's most popular event. Follow this historical sketch to see the changes and developments that made the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
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In late 1930 and early 1931, concerned business leaders and cattlemen began discussing ways to increase awareness of the cattle industry in the region. They soon learned that no large cattle market had ever been developed in a city or region that did not have a well-known livestock show.
In January of 1931, a group of seven men met for lunch at the Texas State Hotel. When the lunch was complete, the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition had been created. Each of the seven men was elected to an official leadership position for the first Show that was to be held in 1932.
- James W. Sartwelle, owner of Port City Stockyards
- J. Howard West, Fogle-West Funeral Home
- Julian A. Weslow, attorney
- Marcus Meyer, Foley Brothers
- W.C. Munn, dry goods merchant
- Haygood Ashburn, Houston Chamber of Commerce
- W.S. Cochran, vice president, Houston’s First National Bank
- The first Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition was held at the Sam Houston Hall, also known as the Democratic Convention Hall.
- To entice visitors, free barbecue was offered to anyone who visited after 6 p.m. each day.
- A total of 2,000 people visited the first year.
- The Grand Champion Steer, exhibited by Texas A&M College, was purchased for $504 by George Kelley, a Houston restaurant owner.
- Sam Houston Hall was the home of the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition until 1936, when it was damaged by a fire. Organizers chose to forgo the event in 1937 and moved to a new venue, the Sam Houston Coliseum, in 1938.
- The Sam Houston Coliseum had a capacity of 9,200 and was home to the event for almost 30 years.