HOUSTON - The concert lineup is officially out and buzz is growing for the 2018 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. So, what's new in 2018, and what are the basics anyone who is new to Houston or visiting needs to know?
In the urban jungle of Houston, Texas, Western fever is fixing to make its yearly return.
“It's something you should check out if you haven't been to Houston before,” said Brandon Wilson, walking in Discovery Green downtown around lunchtime on Friday.
“Since I was a kid, since school, elementary school,” said Manuel Diaz, when asked how long he's been attending the event.
Experienced Rodeo-goers have their favorite events.
“They like going on the amusement rides and going to see the livestock,” said Ken Stemac, referring to his daughters, ages four and six.
Wilson said his parents and sisters will be going to the concerts, but he's looking forward to “the animals and the roller coasters.”
Even for those not from H-town, chances are they've heard a little something about the Bayou City's biggest party.
“It's a big rodeo,” said Ramon Cruz, who was visiting Houston from Mexico. “It's a lot of people and a lot of fun.”
Although the three-week-long Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officially starts on February 27th, there are plenty of big events happening in the days leading up to it.
On Friday, February 23rd, more than 3,000 trail riders will converge on Memorial Park from every corner of the state before parading through downtown Houston the next morning.
That same morning, Saturday, February 24, the Rodeo Run will once again be held downtown. More than 9,500 people took part in the 10k race, 5k fun run/walk, and wheelchair races in 2017.
Later that night, more than 250 teams will wrap up the three-day Barbecue Cookoff, which runs February 22-24 and is open to the public, though team tents are invite-only.
During the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a grounds pass grants access into the livestock shows, exhibits, and midway, though food, drinks, games, and rides cost extra.
A ticket includes admission to all of those areas plus the actual two-hour nightly rodeo competition at NRG Stadium and the concert that follows.
Out of the 20 acts scheduled, 15 of those artists are country acts, and all will be playing on a brand-new stage for 2018.
“We've talked about things changing with the stage and how we're gonna choreograph on stage the ride out,” said Cody Johnson, of Huntsville, who is performing for the second year in a row. “There's been a few variables.”
“The new stage is spectacular,” said Joel Cowley, President and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “The old stage served us well for 31 years. It weighed about 100,000 pounds, This new one weighs 360,000 pounds.”
Tickets go on sale January 11th at 10 a.m.
Cowley says the key is to be in the online waiting room, which opens at 9:30 a.m. that same morning, to be randomly selected like everyone else.
Also new for 2018: RodeoHouston has launched on online secondary marketplace for fans to buy and sell tickets.
For more information on the Rodeo, including a list of events and ticket sales, click here.