It appears the Stock Show has entered a “if it ain’t broke” phase.
Over its history, the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo has changed its mix of events and attractions on a regular basis, in hope of keeping its product fresh.
And in recent years, the public has responded in staggering numbers to the event’s annual offering of rodeos, livestock shows, live music, shopping, food, carnival rides and education. In 2012 and again in 2013, more than 1 million visitors passed through the show’s gates — a first for the 118-year-old extravaganza that sprawls across the Will Rogers Memorial Center for 23 days.
With most available space utilized and with their existing entertainment and activity schedule so heartily endorsed by ticket sales, Stock Show administrators are obviously reluctant to make room for unproven additions.
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But, despite being slightly boxed in by success, this year’s show will offer a new rodeo, a new shopping area and a new “day.”
The Fort Worth Super Shootout, scheduled for Thursday, joins the roster of rodeos at the Stock Show. This “specialty” rodeo features superstar cowboys and cowgirls, and an unusual format designed to ratchet up the level of competition.
The rodeo will offer only five events: bareback bronc riding, saddle bronc riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding. And only eight contestants will compete in each event. The Stock Show is inviting the top competitors from eight major rodeos (Houston, Denver, Austin, San Angelo, Cheyenne, Calgary, Reno and Fort Worth) from the 2013 rodeo season to vie for a share of a total purse of $100,000 — a large pot of gold for a one-performance rodeo, according to Stock Show officials.
All will compete in the rodeo’s first go-around, or “long go.” Then the top four finishers in each event move on to the concluding “short go” to determine the winners.
And that’s where the rodeo really gets a little different.
Between those go-arounds, the finalists in the rough stock contests will be allowed to choose either the animal they want to ride or their position in the go-around. And they will announce those choices during in-the-ring interviews with rodeo legends Pam Minick and Dave Appleton.
“[Rodeo stock provider] Jim Gay has worked hard to get all NFR [National Finals Rodeo]-quality stock,” says Lauren Lovelace, an assistant operations manager for the Stock Show. “So it should be a good matching of outstanding cowboys with outstanding broncs and bulls.”
And just to put a further twist on the event, the cowboys and cowgirls will be competing as teams, based on the rodeos that earned them the right to be here.
“If you’re not a seasoned rodeo fan, this event is for you. It’s going to be easy to understand and follow,” said Brad Barnes, president and general manager of the Stock Show. “If you are a seasoned rodeo fan, you’re going to love the ability to learn more about contestants and enjoy great action.”
Shop till you drop
Among the most routinely crowded areas of the Stock Show are its two vendors’ halls — the main area in the Amon Carter Exhibits Hall and the much smaller Brown-Lupton South Exhibits Hall area — where visitors can buy everything from a pocketknife to a hay baler.
“We get hundreds and hundreds of applications every year [from potential vendors]. And we just don’t have space,” said Jay Blackmon, commercial exhibits manager at the Stock Show.
But that will change just a bit this year with a new commercial space in the complex’s Brown-Lupton North Exhibits Hall.
“We wanted to give [visitors] new and different things,” said Blackmon, referring to the cozy shopping area located in a newly developed area of the complex that was home to horse stalls last year.
The Brown-Lupton North shopping area will offer the wares of 14 vendors, 13 of them new. There are approximately 215 vendors in the main exhibits hall and 26 in Brown-Lupton South.
“We talked with our decorating company to come up the best possible use of the space. We knew it was going to be an elite little group. And we wanted it to be kind of a mini version of what we have in the Amon Carter,” said Blackmon.
An early preview of the room indicated that it will indeed be as wildly eclectic as its sister areas, with booths selling imported clothing, tennis shoes and original artworks.
A special day for Cook’s
Finally, the Stock Show has announced another specially designated “day” in support of a worthy cause.
Feb. 5 is Cook Children’s Medical Center Day at the Stock Show. Half of ticket sales for both the 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. rodeo performances will be donated to Cook Children’s, specifically earmarked to support its neonatal intensive-care unit.
“We are so pleased to be able to support the amazing work being done at Cook Children’s Hopital,” said Shanna Weaver, publicity manager for the Stock Show.