Writing Competition

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ Trailblazer Committee is proud to announce the winners of its 2023 Writing Competition.

Texas-area fourth graders were invited to submit either a poem or an essay, following the theme, “If I Had a Pony.”

Each entry was judged by committee volunteers in two blind rounds on the following criteria:  Ideas, Organization, Voice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions, and Presentation.

Following the committee judging, the top entries were judged by a panel of “celebrity” judges, including Zane Carruth, a children’s author from Houston, Mary Brooke Casad, a featured Texas writer at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX, Vanessa Gilmore, published author and the youngest ever appointee to a federal judgeship at 36 years old, Chris Mullen, a Western author from Richmond TX, and Cathey Nickell, a children’s book author and speaker from Houston, TX.

Thank you to our judges, volunteers and especially our Texas student authors on a job well done!


2023 Winners


  • 1st Place – Claire Pumphrey, Morgan Elementary – Fulshear, Texas
    (* Winner of the inaugural competition as a second grader!)
  • 2nd Place – Logan Torres, Arcadia First Baptist Christian School – Santa Fe, Texas
  • 3rd Place – Madison Kloesel, Walnut Springs Elementary – New Braunfels, Texas


  • 1st Place – Mackenzie Wood, Serene Hills Elementary – Austin, Texas
  • 2nd Place – Owen Greening, Bess Campbell Elementary – Sugar Land, Texas
  • 3rd Place – Emery Becker, Bluff Dale Elementary – Bluff Dale, Texas

Trailblazer’s Choice

  • Essay: Shiloh Balasuriya, T.H. Rogers Elementary – Houston, TX
  • Poetry: Elizabeth Alexander, Homeschool – Jarrell, TX


Darlene Lively