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RodeoHouston in 2021? CEO Joel Cowley discusses chances of event returning next year

After this year's rodeo season was cut short by the pandemic, many wonder if there will be a rodeo at all next year.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 has forced the cancellation a lot of events so far but probably none bigger than RodeoHouston.

And after 15 years leading the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as president and CEO – earlier this week – Joel Cowley announced he would be stepping down.

On Wednesday, KHOU 11 News Anchor Len Cannon spoke to him one-on-one about everything from why now to if there would be a rodeo next year.

In a virtual chat, Cowley said he is not resigning because of the difficulties of the past two months, and that the decision to shut down the rodeo early was heartbreaking but the right call to keep everyone safe.

When asked if he felt they closed soon enough, Cowley said, “I think the authorities acted when they had the science and the evidence there was community spread."


And amid this ongoing pandemic will there be a rodeo in 2021?

Well, Cowley said he believed Houston had an advantage and time on its side.

"I think if we have effective treatments, if we have test and treat in place, that will probably restore the confidence in most consumers," Cowley said.

From setting attendance records to bringing more diversity to shows, when asked about his legacy Cowley said he hoped people would think of him as someone who was committed and hard working.

As for how he's feeling about leaving, Cowley said, "I will tell you its bittersweet. I've made some fantastic relationships here. It's really bittersweet."

Cowley's last day will be May 22.

Replacing Cowley will be RodeoHouston's current Chief Mission Officer Chris Boleman.

Watch the full interview below in two parts.


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