Saturday’s downtown All-Western Parade always serves as the grand opening of the annual Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, and as the show’s promoters say, it’s always “legendary.”
The parade starts at 11 a.m. The show’s 23-day run actually began on Friday and continues through Feb. 7.
Stock show organizers are nothing if not thorough in their work, from drawing in prize animals for judging, to building a total rodeo purse that’s among the top 10 in the nation to attract the best cowboys and cowgirls, to putting together some pretty good food for people who attend.
They’re also good at keeping track of numbers about the show. Start with this one: The show tracks its roots to 1896 on the banks of Marine Creek in North Fort Worth — 119 years ago.
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During its run last year (also 23 days) the show surpassed 1 million “visitor days” for the third year in a row. The average attendance was 49,439 per day, and 76 percent of the visitors came from outside of Fort Worth.
The 2014 show included 28,917 head of livestock, and the rodeo saw more than 1,200 members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association competing for well over $600,000 in prize money.
The livestock auctions at the end of the show are always a highlight. Last year, bidders spent $3.3 million in the Sale of Champions.
Coors Distributing paid $200,000 for Here I Am, the Grand Champion steer, shown by Flint Newman, then a senior at Stanton High School.
Just a year earlier, Newman sold his reserve grand champion, Blackie, for $105,000. Coors Distributing was the buyer that time, too.
When you have a bunch of animals, they have to eat. The animals at last year’s Stock Show consumed 3,700 bales of prairie hay.
The show also distributed 3,680 bales of straw so the exhibitors of those animals could make their pens more comfortable.
The show’s organizers provided no statistics on how much of byproduct of all that hay-eating was cleaned up and hauled away.
There is a financial bottom line.
The show organizers cite a financial study showing that visitor spending last year, including parking, admission, food, beverages, carnival rides, merchandise and games, was more than $36.6 million.
Including hotel stays and other expenses, the study estimated total spending at more than $56.8 million.
Fort Worth got more than $1.1 million in taxes from all that spending, and the state got more than $3.5 million.
If all that’s not “legendary,” it’s close enough for now.