I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Fort Worth fan, fully convinced that this is a great city. Still, if I am being honest I have to admit that I don’t go to the Stock Show every year.It’s a great event, a special combination of wholesome, exciting and educational, and I’ve been there many times. This year’s Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo starts today and runs 23 days, through Feb. 8.What does grab my attention every year is, what a cash cow (sorry, I couldn’t resist) this is for Fort Worth. And apparently I needn’t feel guilty about not attending absolutely every year. Their biggest market is people who aren’t from here.Data distributed this week by the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show estimate last year’s Stock Show had well over 1 million visitors, and more than 80 percent were from outside Fort Worth.They spent more than $49 million on parking, admission, food, beverage, rides, merchandise and games. And more than $42 million of that was from people who came from outside of Fort Worth.More than one in five visitors (21.5 percent) spends more than $200 on a single item at the show. (Officials boast “200,000 square feet of shopping including everything from the fashion, bling and Miracle Blade knives to trucks, tractors and trailers.”) Cha-ching, cha-ching.And that’s not counting hotel stays, which brought in another $4.8 million, the estimates show. Filter that down to tax income for the city. The estimates cite almost $1 million in sales taxes and $434,198 in hotel room taxes for last year’s 23-day run.All of this is without the multipliers that economists usually apply to such figures so that the estimates reflect how those dollars ripple through the economy and are spent again and again. Use the multipliers and the estimates jump to more than $100 million in total spending and almost $2.9 million in city tax revenue.Finally, factor in that the show is a full-time, year-round business. It has 15 departments, 888 temporary/seasonal employees, 16 full-time staff members, 151 superintendents and 15 committees with 609 volunteers.So it’s clear that every one of the million-plus visitors is a paying customer, and there’s a lot of economic impact riding on whether they are pleased with the experience.Materials distributed by the show quote Brad Barnes, the president and general manager, in a way that clearly demonstrates the importance of customer satisfaction.“We never want our guests to leave the grounds saying it was the same old thing,” Barnes said. New features last year included all-new parade seating, a mechanics competition and an app that rodeo fans can use to score the competition.This year’s show includes the “Moo-seum Experience” put together by the Stock Show and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, the Cattle Raisers Museum and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.Let’s not forget somewhere around 25,000 head of premium livestock. And some 1,200 Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association members will compete for more than $600,000 in rodeo winnings.It might be time to head on down to the show again this year.
Mike Norman is editorial director of the Star-Telegram. 817-390-7830 Twitter: @mnorman9