By Sarah Tucker
In 1982, Lori Spangler was selected as the first female to participate in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ Calf Scramble.
For eighth-grader Lori, this meant a trip to Houston for the Rodeo, then the Astrohall for the pre-scramble meet, and finally, over to Astrodome for the main event. She remembers being swallowed by her enormous scramble T-shirt and feeling awestruck at the special attention paid to her as the first female calf scrambler. But Lori, who had been showing cattle since she was nine years old and knew her way around a rope halter, was unprepared for the scramble.
“They released the kids and calves to run, and I got clotheslined by the boys on each side of me!” Spangler said.
Despite her best efforts, Lori did not catch a calf but helped another scrambler with his rope halter. Calf Scramble Committee officials tried to convince Lori’s dad to let her have a “hard luck calf,” awarded to a scrambler who goes above and beyond helping others, but her dad refused. Instead, he insisted Lori would be back to show cattle, and suggested the committee help a needier scrambler.
Ultimately, Lori did not participate in the Houston Show again, but she continued to show cattle throughout high school and received a Rodeo scholarship. Lori now teaches at the elementary school she once attended. She appreciates her experiences as a participant in livestock shows and the first girl to compete in the Calf Scramble.
“Learning and growing up with the stock shows teaches life skills like perseverance, hard work and responsibility–skills you don’t have to be in agriculture to use,” she said. “I think it made me the person I am.”
Lori still attends the Rodeo every year and is an active member of the Area Go Texan Committee in Angelina County. She would also love to join the Calf Scramble Committee, share her experience with a future scrambler and have the opportunity to drop the starting hat someday.
About the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo promotes agriculture by hosting an annual, family-friendly experience that educates and entertains the public, supports Texas youth, showcases Western heritage, and provides year-round educational support within the community. Since its beginning in 1932, the Rodeo has committed more than $575 million to the youth of Texas and education. The 2024 Rodeo is scheduled for Feb. 27 – March 17. The 2024 World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, presented by Cotton Holdings, is scheduled for Feb. 22 – 24. For more information, visit rodeohouston.com and follow @RODEOHOUSTON online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for all the latest news.