Writing Competition

In 2021, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ Trailblazer Committee hosted an inaugural Writing Competition for Texas second graders. This competition was developed to encourage literacy and writing skills in Texas students, which falls in line with the Trailblazer Committee’s ongoing efforts to promote reading and literacy in school children, year-round. The Writing Competition is an opportunity for students to display their creativity, imagination and writing skills in either an essay or poem. The 2021 theme was “Why I Am Proud to Live in Texas.”

Stay tuned to submit your entry for our 2022 competition!

Awards were issued for first, second and third place in each category, as well as for one overall Trailblazer’s Choice award, which was selected by the Rodeo’s Trailblazer Committee.

2021 Winners


  • 1st – Claire Pumphrey, Huggins Elementary – Fulshear, Texas
  • 2nd – Emma Ferguson, Greens Prairie Elementary – College Station, Texas
  • 3rd – Ava Bessler, Homeschooled – College Station, Texas


  • 1st – Hunter Hoffman, Whitney Elementary – Whitney, Texas
  • 2nd – Blaise Bayer, Homeschooled – Gainesville, Texas
  • 3rd – Savannah Evans, Second Baptist School – Houston

Trailblazer’s Choice

  • Essay: Cydney Howell, Cornerstone Christian Academy – Sugar Land
  • Poetry: Bryson Courtney, Harvey Brown Elementary – Houston
Read Essays and Poems


Each entry was judged by committee volunteers in two weighted, blind rounds on the following criteria: 60% creativity, 30% organization, and 10% correctness of style. Following the volunteer judging, the top entrees were judged by a panel of “celebrity” judges, including Allie Burton, a young adult author from Colorado, Zane Carruth, a children’s author from Houston, and Chris Mullen, a Western author from Richmond, Texas.

Allie Burton

Allie Burton has always been a reader and writer. She wrote her first novel at the age of 12 when she was stranded at a hospital in a snowstorm. Receiving her first romance books from her grandmother, she fell in love with the genre. As an adult, she read young adult books with her own teens and was excited to find something fresh and new.

Known for her Lost Daughters of Atlantis series, Allie continues to focus on young adult fantasy with the recent release of the Warrior Academy series and Cinderella Assassin, A Glass Slipper Adventure. Combined with her Castle Ridge contemporary romances, Allie has published 20 books and novellas. She is a member of several writing organizations. She loves to ski, golf and run. Currently, she lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

Zane Carruth

Zane Carson Carruth owns Carson Marketing, LLC, a Houston-based, full-service marketing company that provides integrated marketing solutions for businesses. She also owns Etiquette to Excel and is a certified business etiquette and protocol professional.

Carruth has published three books in the trademarked series about the tooth fairy: “The World’s First Tooth Fairy...Ever,” “The Adventures of Abella and Her Magic Wand,” and “Abella Starts a Tooth Fairy School.” She is in the process of getting two more published: “Abella Goes to the Rodeo” and “Abella Gets a New Hair Do.”

Chris Mullen

Chris Mullen is an author and storyteller who has published both novels and picture books and enjoys campfire tales that fan the flames of his desire to share stories with the world. He was honored to be named Winner for Westerns in the 2020 American Fiction Awards (American BookFest) for his novel Rowdy: Wild and Mean, Sharp and Keen.

Chris was a teacher for 23 years and still reaches out to kids of all ages to encourage creativity, imagination and self-confidence. He won the Connie Wootton Excellence in Teaching award in 2019. Chris is a husband and father of two sons.


Darlene Lively