Festivities Start Saturday with Parade
The 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) officially starts this Saturday with the annual downtown Rodeo Parade. But there is a change this year. "We've moved a couple of blocks south and we'll be starting on Walker Street, but other than that it's pretty much the same venue," says Rodeo Chairman of the Board R. H. "Steve" Stevens Jr. Indeed, the parade route has shifted slightly due to ongoing METRORail construction downtown. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Bagby and Walker Streets, then continues to go right on Travis, right on Bell, right on Louisiana, and left on Lamar before ending at Lamar and Bagby. Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin is the grand marshal of this year's parade, which will also include the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.
While the parade marks the kickoff of the HLSR, the rodeo itself starts Monday. Stevens says this year marks the first time ever the HLSR will hold a concert-only event without a rodeo, when George Strait headlines the final night on Sunday, March 17th. "On Saturday night the 16th, we'll clear the dirt out, clear the chutes out, and move 8,000 seats onto the floor of Reliant Stadium," he explains. Tickets to the Strait show have been the hottest property in town for months, but overall ticket sales are also doing well. In fact, Stevens says sales are already up more than 7% from last year's event. "We've sold 1 million and 100,000 tickets to our actual rodeo performances."
The performances are only part of the spectacle. The world's largest livestock show, thousands of agriculture displays, unique shopping retailers, a huge carnival of rides, and of course the almost unending array of food options all add up to make the Rodeo the biggest annual event in Houston. "Come tour the outside, taste the food, experience the carnival," says Stevens. "It's all a lot of fun."