Two thousand seventy-three: That’s how many miles Adriana Botero and her group of ten travel every year to attend the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

For Botero Medellin, Colombia, is her homebase. It’s where her family is, where business booms and where she’s proud to represent. A longtime businesswoman in the Beefmasters business would soon find herself becoming a part-time Houstonian when Rodeo season came around.

“A colleague told us about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo over ten years ago,” Botero said. “We go to the Beefmaster breeder’s sales. We go to the Beefmasters shows.”

Purchasing thousands of dollars in genetic material and livestock each year, Botero said the Rodeo has become a non-negotiable event in the way they do business.

“We have to be there to know what is happening,” she said. “We do anything we can to make it.”

Botero (center, brown jacket) and her group of colleagues inside NRG Center during Rodeo season. Credit. Botero.

Botero is one of the over 2.5 million people that carved out three weeks in the spring of 2024 to attend the Rodeo.

Ask any Houstonian about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and they’ll tell you it’s the largest and most anticipated event in Houston every year.

In fact, the Rodeo’s 2024 Economic Impact Study indicates just how much the annual 23-day event contributes to Greater Houston’s economy.

According to the study, conducted by Economics Analytics Consulting, LLC, the event generated a total economic impact of $326 million and a stunning $597 million in economic activity.

Both amounts showed remarkable increases from the previous 2019 economic impact report, with economic impact rising by 43% and economic activity rising by 53%.

In short, economic impact analyzes spending in Greater Houston generated by visitors, whereas economic activity focuses on spending in Rodeo by all attendees, including anyone from Greater Houston.

According to the study, the rise in numbers was a combined contribution by more spending, a more detailed survey and inflation.

When you dive deeper into the economic impact numbers, the study shows direct spending, which includes hotels, shopping and merchandise, food and beverages, entertainment, horses and livestock, farm and ranch equipment, and ground transportation and event spending, reached $179 million.

Furthermore, total fiscal impact reached $18 million, direct fiscal contribution totaled $15 million, direct jobs totaled 3,538 and total jobs supported in Greater Houston was 5,694.

An event of this magnitude is why it continues to be a driving force for small businesses.

An example is a Houston-based boutique, Small in the Saddle, which has been a returning vendor at the Rodeo since 2008, according to the owner, Ashleigh Wingo.

Wingo took over the business in 2017 and said, as a Houstonian and a Rodeo scholarship recipient, she understood what the event could do for business, but was overwhelmed by the true impact when she got a better look at the books.

“After my first year at HLSR, that was it, I knew the Houston Rodeo was the best trade show to be a vendor at across the United States,” Wingo said.

As a mother and business owner, Wingo said it’s a delicate act to make the business work and balance family life. The sheer scale of the business that comes from the three-week venture keeps her thriving in both aspects of life, she said.

Wingo pictured in front of her booth in NRG Center, accepting the 2024 ‘Best Booth Presentation’ award. Credit: HLSR.

“Without the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I wouldn’t be able to structure my business the way it is,” Wingo said. “The flexibility that HLSR provides economically and financially is massive.”

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is arguably the largest livestock show and rodeo in the world. And according to USATODAY, the Best Rodeo in 2024. Its marquee status amongst Houstonians and attendees makes it stand-in-line with some of America’s other large-scale events, such as the Superbowl, Final Four and other events alike.

The 2.5 million attendees at the 2024 event made it the second-highest attendance since 2017.

According to the study, the Rodeo’s attendance outranks some of Houston’s other beloved events and sporting events.

Both Texas MLB’s teams, the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers, brought a combined total of 5.5 million fans in 2023. Those numbers were tallied over a six-month season and in a year both teams advanced to the post-season series, with the Rangers winning the World Series.

It takes a village to make the Rodeo successful. A combined effort of staff, seasonal employees and over 35,000 volunteers across 109 committees that serve the millions of visitors each spring.

Many will tell you it’s just in their nature as Houstonians to serve for an organization and event with this sort of impact.   In its 92 years, The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed more than $600 million to the youth of Texas and education. In 2024 alone, the Rodeo will be awarding over $27 million in scholarships.

For some, being a part of this event contributes to their means of living.

That’s part of Dayne Roland’s story, who is a Head Bartender in the Arena Lifetime Vice President’s room.

“A friend thought it would a great thing to do after retirement,” Roland said. “I instantly became passionate about it. Once you do it, it kind of gets in your system. And not just the money part.”

Roland has been a seasonal employee for seven years, and says the job offers his family extra cushion.

“It’s 20 or 21 straight days. My schedule is 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” Roland said. “Fiscally, the money helps. It’s a boost to your personal economy. I pay a bill or take a vacation.”

And while it’s “technically working”, Roland said it never feels like such because of the community that comes with the job.

“It becomes family and that it what it truly is. I’ve made some friends working there that I’ll have for life.” he said. “It’s a job that I’ll do until I’m too told to do anything”.

Roland posing with Howdy during a shift at RODEOHOUSTON. Credit: Roland.

Botero, Wingo and Roland are just three of the thousands of people who not only rely on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo but take pride in being a part of an organization that does so much for its community.

“To have a full circle moment and have my business be at the rodeo is a blessing,” Wingo said.

To read the full 2024 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Economic Impact Report, click here.