On February 22, 2022, Don Nichols spoke to the Magnolia Rotary Club membership about the history of the Rodeo up to current times. Pictured above from left to right is Hope Moye (President-Elect of the Magnolia Rotary Club) and Don Nichols who is a member of the "Speaker's Committee , Houston Livestock and Rodeo".
Don provided a slideshow that covered the history of the Houston Livestock & Rodeo (HLS&R) but started off with the calendar for this year's Rodeo:
  • February 25, 2022 - Houston City Hall Rodeo Roundup
  • February 24-26, 2022 - BBQ Cook-off
  • February 25, 2022 - Go Texan Day
  • February 26, 2022 - Parade (10:00AM)
  • February 28, 2022 - Houston Livestock & Rodeo (World's Largest Rodeo)
Don then talked about the history of the Rodeo:
  • In 1931, The Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition is created after seven men meet for lunch at the Texas State Hotel, with a goal of preserving the cattle industry along the Texas Gulf Coast area.
  • In 1932, the first show is held at the Democratic Convention Hall. The inaugural event was held in late April 1932. It was primarily a regional event, designed to showcase the agriculture and livestock, including Brahmans, in the area around Houston, Texas. The show lasted one week and ran a deficit of $2,800.
  • In 1938, the event moved to the Sam Houston Coliseum. Organizers solidified plans for a larger event, including a parade through downtown Houston, a carnival and midway, and a rodeo with a total purse of $640.50. In the 1940s, despite World War II, organizers added musical entertainment.
  • In 1966, the Rodeo moved to the Astrodome. The first performances in the new Domed Stadium drew 25,340 spectators and attendance for one performance event topped 40,000 (almost five times the number of people the Coliseum could hold).
  • The Astrohall was also built in 1966 with funds raised by the HLS&R. The last concert at the Astrodome was George Straight & the Ace in the Hole Band during the 2002 HLS&R before a record crowd of 68,266.
  • The HLS&R then moved the following year to the newly built NRG.
Don than showed everyone the 4 pillars of the HLS&R:
  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Western Heritage
Don than told everyone about the impact of the HLS&R
  • The HLS&R  has encouraged and promoted the breeding, raising and marketing of the livestock industry in the Texas Gulf Coast region.
  • Today, the HLS&R is the world's largest and most livestock exhibition and livestock and horse show competitions drew 33,949 entries in 2018.
  • Thousands of exhibitors come from all over Texas to exhibit their livestock and only the best of the best leave the green-shaving arena with the title "Houston Champion",
  • Since the HLS&R  began in 1932, more than $475 million has been committed to the youth of Texas.
  • The HLS&R has presented nearly 19,000 scholars since the first scholarship was awarded in 1957. Currently, more than 2,300 students are on Rodeo scholarships, attending more than 80 different Texas colleges and universities. The value of these scholarships is more than $50 million.
  • In 2020, the HLS&R committed $27 million to scholarships, junior show exhibitors, educational program grants and graduate assistantships. This means that the HLS&R  surpassed $500 million in their total commitment to youth and education since 1932. This commitment occurred regardless of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Don also spoke about the results of a 2019 Economic Impact Study conducted on the HLS&R:
  • $227 Million Total Economic Impact
  • $13 Million Total Fiscal Impact
  • $11 Million Direct Fiscal Contribution
  • 3694 Direct Jobs created
  • 5133 Total Jobs Supported in Greater Houston
Don then spoke about some the biggest names in entertainment who have performed on the Rodeo Houston Stage.
  • Elvis Presley
  • Dolly Parton
  • Johnny Cash
  • Charley Pride
  • ZZ Top
  • Willie Nelson
  • Reba
  • George Strait
  • Garth Brooks
Don then told everyone the "Speakers Committee" (which Don is part of) was created in 1970. Don pointed out that in that year Evlis Presley did six performances.
Don then talked about the Trail Rides each year to the HLS&R:
  • In 1952, four men traveled on horseback from Brenham, Texas to raise awareness of the HLS&R. This was the beginning of the Trail Ride tradition.
  • Today, more than 2,000 trail riders partake in the Rodeo's signature tradition each year.
  • Riders hit the trail in an attempt to recreate the Old West and in doing so, find a common ground that links us all to the Rodeo.
  • The Salt Grass Trail Ride is the original and the oldest of trail rides that promote the HLS&R. This Trail Ride was started in 1953.
  • The longest Trail Ride is the Mission Trail Ride that begins in San Antonio, Texas.
Fotr more information about the HLS&R or to purchase tickets, go to: https://www.rodeohouston.com/.