Opening Day Festivities at The 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™

by | Mar 7, 2017 | Article


The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ honored all Houston area first responders on opening day, Tuesday, March 7, 2017. On First Responder’s Day, local firemen, police officers, EMT’s and 911 dispatchers received free admission into NRG Park.

Mike Cornwell, Houston Fire Department Engineer Operator, explained why he chose to pursue a lifetime career in law enforcement.

“I like to serve people,” Cornwell said. “We usually see people on the worst days of their life, and we help them get through that.”

An Honor Bell Ceremony was held to recognize those lost in the line of duty between 2014 and 2016. The Armed Forces Appreciation Committee invited the families of those persons to be present and recognized during the ceremony.

A display of law enforcement vehicles equipped with crime, firefighting and EMS equipment was available for viewing to the public.

D. Laird, of the High Risk Operations Unit for Harris County Sheriff’s Department, stood outside his S.W.A.T. vehicle on public display outside NRG Stadium.

“We set up our equipment here for informational purposes, so the public can see what we do,” Laird said. “It’s a great chance to get to talk to the community, because we just want people to know that we’re here to help.”


Opening day at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ featured the fan-favorite Celebrity Dairy Goat Milking Contest. Houston’s local media celebrities competed in three separate milking rounds in NRG Center, Tuesday, March 7, to battle it out for the title of Celebrity Dairy Goat Milking Champion.

This year’s competition was fierce. The final milk count was so close, officials called for a Celebrity Milk-Off among the three heat champions. In the end, 2016 Champion Maggie Flecknoe of The CW, Ch. 39, defeated the competition yet again. Flecknoe coaxed her goat to give so much milk that the judges had to get her a second container.

“I’m competitive, but I never played sports, so maybe this is how I get that out!” Flecknoe said. “Only in Texas can you say, I’m a morning anchor, and I compete in goat milking.”


The K9s4Cops Hard Dog/Fast Dog competition was held Tuesday, March 7 during the first night of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™. The competing K-9’s proved that they mean business. Police K-9’s are known to do important work for police, but the competition let the crowd see it with their own eyes. The dogs competed to take the top spot as the fastest K-9.

These trained dogs are recruited as puppies to live a career using their strong sense of smell to detect crimes. On the shavings in the NRG Center Main Arena, the fastest pup was clocked running 30 mph to attack and take down the decoy suspect. Madison Sperry, Harris County Deputy K-9 Handler, shed light on how much training and recruiting it takes to get these dogs to this point.

“There’s two trainers from Houston Academy who go over to Europe, and they select the best of the best dogs,” Sperry said. “These dogs come over around 16 months of age, they finish them out, and then that’s when we get them.”

Chance Davis, K-9 Harris County sergeant for patrol, explained the intense bond that is created between a K-9 and its handler.

“We work for 8 hours a day, and then I take her home with me, so we’re together at home too,” Davis said. “You can’t describe the bond it forms.”

In the end, Rocco, a Belgian Malinois led by Deputy Bryan Collins from the Harris County Sheriff’s office, won with his 30 mph time.


On opening day, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ officially welcomed the Western Hemisphere’s largest traveling observation wheel, La Grande XL, to the carnival with a celebratory ribbon cutting ceremony.

The wheel, which is owned by the midway provider Ray Cammack Shows, was transported to NRG Park on 22 semi-trailers. Erected with an 80-ton crane and assembled by a crew of 10, the wheel is officially up and running, and ready to soar passengers to new heights.

You can catch a ride on La Grande XL every day in the carnival during the run of the Show, March 7–26. Carnival hours are Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight, and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to midnight. During Spring Break Stampede, March 13–17, extended carnival hours will be available Monday through Friday, noon to midnight.

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