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Getting Around the 2018 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo

Getting Around the 2018 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo


The San Antonio Stock and Rodeo Show first started in 1950 and has been a San Antonio tradition 3 weeks out of February every year.

In the 1940s, Fairs showcasing agricultural trade shows were becoming popular in rural Texas, but the lack of facilities to host the fairs was a common problem in South Texas.  Enter Joe Freeman; to promote agriculture as a career to the youth, he wanted to have a livestock exposition for the youth of Texas.  In 1945, Joe Freeman began talking to local leaders about building an arena for livestock shows, rodeos and other events. Joe Freeman was able to get support and raise funds. He acquired 175 acres of land from Bexar County and in September 1949, the Joe Freeman-Bexar County Coliseum was opened to the public. In 1949, He also founded the volunteer organization, that would be later known as The San Antonio Livestock Exposition, Inc. It would be responsible for organizing the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. On February 17, 1950, the first Annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo was held. The first exposition met with unparalleled success, entertaining more than a quarter of a million visitors; this was an unheard of record for an opening show.

Today, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has grown to one of the largest, most prestigious single events in the city of San Antonio, with over two million visitors entering the grounds each year. This year the rodeo runs from Feb 8 to 25.

The San Antonio Livestock Exposition, Inc. still lives up to its mandate in promoting agriculture to the youth of Texas by providing scholarships, and encouraging the youth to participate in its animal shows and other contests. With community, donor and volunteer support, the organization has donated more than $186 million to the youth of Texas through scholarships, grants, endowments and show premiums.

The San Antonio Rodeo has been running for more than 70 years. It is now hosted at the AT&T Center right next to the Freeman Coliseum, which Joe Freeman built in the 1940s.


Trail Ride and Cowboy Breakfast

Two weeks before the opening of the San Antonio Rodeo, locals re-enact what’s its like to live in the Old West and ride the trails on horseback.  The riders traverse 140 miles of back country roads on horses, mules, and wagons to set the theme for the forthcoming activities. More than 3,500 riders give up the comforts of home and take to the open road on horseback and in wagons to ride to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. From 11 locations in South and Central Texas, these riders promote fellowship and horseback riding as they make their way to the Rodeo with the ride concluding in grand fashion inside the AT&T center Rodeo arena.

Well, before that they have breakfast first, the Cowboy Breakfast started in 1979 at Central Park Mall as an impromptu send-off for trail riders. Today, the Cowboy Breakfast serves free breakfast to over 30,000 people and was recognized in 2001 as the World’s Largest Cooked Breakfast by the Guinness Book of Records. This year, the Cowboy Breakfast was held at the parking lot of the Cowboys Dancehall on January 26.


Serving tacos at the Cowboy Breakfast

Trail Riders passing through the town


Western Heritage Parade & Cattle Drive

The Western Heritage Parade and Cattle Drive officially opens the San Antonio Rodeo. The parade is a mile long route through the streets of downtown San Antonio and features  participants such as Fort Hood 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Sam Houston Caisson and of course, a herd of Texas Longhorns.




The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo runs for 18 days and there is something to experience for everyone.


San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo is all about showcasing the farm life and the old west.  The exhibits in the rodeo are all aimed to give visitors a chance to experience it. Learn how to be a cowboy at Cowboy Boot Camp and even pan for gold. Learn more about cows, running a ranch, milk and dairy production, and horses and rodeos in the Texas Longhorns 101, Dairy Center and Horse Discovery exhibits.

Get a chance to be up close to animals and learn more about them in the Zoomagination, Petting Zoo, Animal Adventures exhibits.

Other notable exhibits and activities are the Butterfly Encounter, Swifty Swine Pig Races, Pony Rides and the science exhibit at the Innovation Station.



The San Antonio Stock and Rodeo Show aims to promote agriculture to the youth of Texas and the livestock shows do just that. Animals that compete in the show include cattle, chicken, swine, turkeys, goats, sheep and horses. . The Junior categories are open to 4H club and FFA Club members and the winners are awarded $10,000 scholarships. The judges select the best animal based on specific breed characteristics. Winners of the Market Shows earn a spot in the Livestock Auction.




The Rodeo starts with the Grand Entry of the Bexar County Palomino Patrol carrying the American and Texas flags in the “Salute to America”.  The Patrol is known for its beautiful Palomino horses, silver saddles, and the riders’ rhinestone uniforms. They have opened the Rodeo since 1951.


The Grand Entry of the Bexar County Palomino Patrol


The Rodeo events are participated by members of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). They compete in seven events that include Bareback Riding, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Saddle Bronc Riding, Tie-Down Roping, Barrel Racing, Bull Riding. Those who qualify for the Bull Riding semi-finals automatically qualify for the Xtreme Bulls Events which include Freestyle Bullfighting where contestants face off with a ruthless Mexican Fighting Bull for 60 seconds.. Points are earned for agility and style in maneuvering a relentless bull. During the 18 days of the rodeo, contestants have a chance to take home a portion of $1,700,000 in prize money.

Non-professionals can also join the other horse events in the rodeo. One of the more popular event is the Youth Rodeo, an event open to kids under 18 years old. The Youth Rodeo has events include Pole Bending, Goat Tying, Barrel Racing, Tie-Down Roping, Breakaway Roping, Ribbon Roping, and Team Roping. This year, they had included Saddle Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding, Bull Riding, and Steer Wrestling to the Youth Rodeo events .

Other events open to non-professionals include; Team Roping, wherein a team of two cowboys (the header and the heeler) attempt to tie down a steer. Cutting, where a rider and his horse must work as a team selecting, or “cutting” individual heifers out of the herd and demonstrating their ability to keep it from returning to the group.  Ranch Sorting, a team of two riders must work in harmony to sort out the correct cattle and drive them to a pen while keeping the wrong numbered cattle back. Barrel Race, contestants compete against the clock to run a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels. A good Barrel Racing horse must possess not only speed and agility and American Quarter Horses are often favored for this event because of their ability to sprint short distances and turn on a dime. American Paint Horses, Appaloosas, and Pintos are also popular mounts.


Freestyle Bullfighting

Bull Riding



There are a lot of other activities in the 2018 San Antonio Stock and Rodeo Show. There are carnival rides ranging from extreme to mild in order to satisfy rodeo patrons of all ages. Nightly concerts by famous country bands and solo acts from both veteran singers and upcoming bands. This years line up of musicians include Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, The Goo Goo Dolls and Foreigner. Lastly, there are shops, food halls and music halls where you can shop, dine and relax after a full day of activities.


You can read more about the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and find future dates at: https://www.sarodeo.com/




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