Judging from the epic turnout and numbers at this year’s 90th anniversary event, it’s clear that Houstonians — and indeed, Texans — greatly missed the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Now, fans can mark their calendars for next year’s festivities.
The rodeo has announced its dates for 2023: The event will run February 28–March 19, 2023. Things will kick off with the wildly popular and highly attended World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, which will be held February 23–25, 2023 and see hundreds of teams competing for the title of best ’cue.
As always, the city will have to wait for the big announce for entertainers (that never stops us from guessing, however). The carnival, Midway, wine auctions, balls and luncheons, and special parties will also return next year.
Houston and the state endured a rodeo drought, forced to wait two years for in-person fun due to COVID cancellations. Back for a triumphant return, this year’s rodeo featured history-making turns. Local rap legend Bun B — the first Black male headliner from Houston — hosted his epic H-Town Takeover, boasting a who’s-who of Bayou City rap and hip-hop talent. Other huge concert draws included Ricky Martin; Gwen Stefani; Journey; and of course, the King of Country, George Strait, the rodeo closer.
Meanwhile, local restaurateur Ben Berg also made history by opening the first sit-down restaurant ever, The Ranch Steakhouse and Saloon. Besides boasting his signature, up-market steak and fine fare, The Ranch quickly became the see-and-be-seen spot for fashionable and social locals.
Even the cookoff had a first, with Cotton Holdings (the event sponsor) hosting Grammy-nominated act — and past rodeo performer — Midland for a VIP tent show. Speaking of tents, Cotton’s was as about as over-the-top as it gets for rodeo cookoff.
By the numbers, this year’s 90th anniversary bash was a Texas-sized success. The rodeo welcomed back more than 2.4 million guests (2,417,248 total), more than 34,000 livestock and horse show entries, and a historic $1 million steer auction purchase. In just three days, the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest entertained 158,215 guests.
Concerts drew some 1,301,529 fans, with 73,259 at Bun B’s H-Town Takeover and 79,456 at Strait’s concert-only closing show.
Can we beat those numbers next year? We’ll have to saddle up and find out.