Judging & Contests

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ hosts several contests and judging competitions for Texas 4-H and FFA students to sharpen their skills.

For 4-H/FFA and Intercollegiate judging contest entry information, please click here.
For Horticulture Competition registration, click here. For Quilt Contest registration, click here.

We ask that the full contest rules are reviewed in the Fall Edition of the Exhibitor Handbook before registering.

Agricultural Mechanics

The Agricultural Mechanics Project Show highlights the many talents of Texas 4-H and FFA members.

These individuals build gates, hay haulers, trailers and so much more. These items can be seen on display in NRG Center — an awe-inspiring display of amazing, and practical, works of art.

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Agricultural Science Fair

Students study the application of agricultural scientific principles and emerging technologies in agricultural enterprises. Categories a student may enter include: Animal Systems, Environmental Services/Natural Resource Systems, Food Products and Processing Systems, Plant Systems, Power/Structural/Technical Systems, and Social Systems.

Ag Robotics Contest

The Ag Robotics Contest is designed to allow members to demonstrate their robotics, engineering and problem-solving skills. From a set of challenges, six revealed prior to the contest and two revealed at the contest, and within an allotted amount of time, teams of three to six members build, program, and test their robot. Teams then attempt to earn points by completing as many challenges as possible.

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Commercial Steer

Exhibitors in the Junior Commercial Steer Feeding and Management Contest learn actual beef production practices from raising, to feeding and selling the steers. Along with raising a pen of three steers, exhibitors are required to complete a quiz, oral interview, and submit a completed record book of all feedings and weights from the previous months.

Additional scoring is based on each steer’s quality and yield grade, the cost per pound gained, the average daily gain, and the feed conversion production. Lastly, steers are sold at a special sale.

Food Challenge Contest

Food Challenge contest is open to Texas 4-H and FFA junior and senior teams consisting of 3-4 students. Each team is randomly assigned to one of the following categories 1) Appetizer 2) Main Dish 3) Side Dish 4) Healthy Dessert. Based on category assignment, the team is provided a secret key ingredient and have 40 minutes to create a dish from the key ingredient and a selection of “grocery store” items provided. The teams then present their original dish to judges and are scored on preparation, serving size, food safety concerns, and nutritional value. Awards are given in both junior and senior divisions to the top four teams. 


Create something beautiful in the Rodeo’s Horticulture Competition! The contest is open to Texas residents between the ages of 8 and 18 and does not require participants to be members of a Texas 4-H Club or FFA Chapter. Show your talents in one or several of the competitions categories including, floral design, plant life, landscaping and photography. Winners of each category are eligible to receive cash prizes and a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo official belt buckle.

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The Industrial Craft Competition helps to foster the development of industrial craft skills for students who are enrolled in career and technical education programs from schools across Texas. Teams construct a spec-built project that is judged by industry experts. Each team is required to deliver a brief presentation to the judges, preceded by a detailed inspection of the project. Industry mentors work with the high school instructors to provide their expertise and guidance. In addition, the students keep a journal of their progress that covers their roles, the project safety plan, an incident log, the project schedule and any rework that was completed.

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2024 Winners »

Judging Contests

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo hosts judging contests that provide junior high, high school and college students an opportunity to establish a solid foundation for cultivating and practicing decision-making skills.

4-H and FFA
Dairy Judging, Floriculture, Horse Judging, Livestock Judging, Nursery Landscape, Meat Judging, Poultry Judging, Range and Pasture Plant Identification, Wildlife Habitat Evaluation, Wool Judging

Livestock Judging, Meat Judging, Wool Judging

The top 30 high-scoring individuals participating in the 4-H and FFA livestock judging contest and the top 15 in the 4-H and FFA dairy judging contest receive calf purchase certificates to be used toward the purchase of quality beef heifers or market steers. These contest winners, along with their animals, then become part of the regular calf scramble program.

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Poster Contest

Projects in the 4-H and FFA Poster Contest focus on the conservation or enhancement of Texas wildlife habitat affecting multiple species or the preservation or enhancement of a particular Texas wildlife species. 

Projects are judged on the quality and accuracy of the information presented and the relevance of the project to the preservation or enhancement of Texas wildlife.


Speakers give a presentation on one division topic — Western heritage, natural resources, animal science, agronomy science, agribusiness, agricultural policy, agricultural technology, agricultural communications or livestock show ethics.

Tractor Technician

Start your engines! Teams race against the clock to locate and correct five deliberately placed malfunctions in diesel-fueled tractors. Each team is given two minutes to review a service work order and 25 minutes to complete the task. If successful, a designated driver then starts the tractor and drives it around a predetermined course.

Each participant must complete a 100-question written exam and an evaluation of 20 tractor and implement components.

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Quilt Contest

More than 70 Quilt Contest entries were received from quilters for the 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The winning quilts were showcased in NRG Center during the 2023 Rodeo, Feb. 28 – March 19.

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Quiz Bowl

4-H and FFA Livestock Quiz Bowl Contest
In this tournament-style contest, teams are tested on their overall knowledge of livestock (beef, swine, sheep and goats) production, including nutrition, reproduction, and cuts of meat. The contest will follow the rules and procedures listed in the Texas 4-H Quiz Bowl Guide.


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

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

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