The rodeo tweeted "community health is our priority" along with a video message from Boleman.
This year's rodeo was previously scheduled to be held in May instead of March, a postponement because of the pandemic. But now it has been canceled entirely, including the rodeo competition, concerts and carnival.
Junior Livestock Show and Horse Show Competitions will still be held in March as private events, however. The Junior Market Auctions and Champion Wine Auction will also still be held in May, also as private events.
"Several factors contributed to the decision, from a community health and safety perspective, as well as a financial one. Above all, the health and safety of the community is the Rodeo’s top priority, and after much consultation with local and state officials and medical experts, Rodeo officials concluded that cancelling the 2021 event was the right decision, with community health at the forefront of the decision," stated rodeo officials in a press release.
Boleman said worked tirelessly to avoid canceling the event.
“I think we started with about a dozen scenarios. One of those was moving things to May which is where we landed,” Boleman said.
However, despite vaccines being rolled out COVID-19 cases are still high.
“The public piece, it just wasn’t going to be possible for us to do in the way that we would want it and frankly, the way our fans would want it in our current times,” Boleman said.
Rodeo Houston organizers hoped things would be better by the time the event got underway.
But, canceling the event now was their best and safest option.
“For a lot of our vendors and partners we wanted to give them as much time as they could to be prepared regarding this situation,” Boleman said.
In addition, vendors like Mark Dunlap with M.L. Leddy’s, said their disappointed in the decision to cancel the event.
“Seventy years of participating in Houston rodeo we’ve created a real generational business. We’ve sold to grandfathers, fathers and sons and grandsons.”
Leddy’s focuses on western goods and clothing.
Dunlap says they’re Rodeo Houston’s longest tenured vendor. Dunlap understands why the decision was made to cancel this year’s event.
“The loss of Houston rodeo, it’s a big deal,” Dunlap said. “For some companies it could change their life.”
The Rodeo still plans to meet its mission this year of giving away more than $21 million in scholarships and grants to junior exhibitors.
Boleman vows to bring back the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo bigger and better than ever for its 90th anniversary next year.
“There is an end in sight to this. We know that,” Boleman said. “We want people to stay optimistic and stay safe but also we want to be hopeful that we think 2022 is going to be a grand show.”
In an interview with KHOU 11's David Gonzalez, Boleman said even though the show won't go on, the show's mission will.
“Because of the foresight by the folks that came well before us, we’re still going to be able to give our $21.7 million in scholarship and grants to our junior exhibitors,” said Boleman. “We’re still able to meet the mission of our show.”
More from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo:
Today, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announced the cancellation of the RODEOHOUSTON® competitions, concerts and entertainment, carnival, and other attractions and activities, which were recently rescheduled for May 4 – 23, 2021, due to the ongoing health situation.
The Junior Livestock and Horse Show competitions will still be held in March, as private events, upholding the Rodeo’s mission of promoting agriculture and supporting Texas youth. The Junior Market Auctions and Champion Wine Auction will also still be held in May, also as private events. These events will follow all state and local health and safety guidelines.
“While we were optimistic that moving our Rodeo to May would provide a better opportunity to host our annual community event that Rodeo fans have come to love and expect, unfortunately, it has become evident that the current health situation has not improved to the degree necessary to host our event,” said Chris Boleman, president and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “While this is an extremely heartbreaking decision for our Rodeo volunteers and the larger Rodeo community, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the health and well-being of our community.”
Several factors contributed to the decision, from a community health and safety perspective, as well as a financial one. Above all, the health and safety of the community is the Rodeo’s top priority, and after much consultation with local and state officials and medical experts, Rodeo officials concluded that cancelling the 2021 event was the right decision, with community health at the forefront of the decision.
“Throughout these uncertain times, we have remained committed to upholding our mission and our support of Texas youth and education,” Boleman said. “We are proud to host Texas 4-H and FFA members, as well as the Horse Show exhibitors, who will all be participating this March. And, thanks to the support of our 35,000 dedicated volunteers, we were able to commit nearly $21.7 million in 2021 educational support.”
In addition, the Downtown Rodeo Parade, Trail Ride activities, Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup & Best Bites Competition, and the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, presented by Comcast Business, are canceled for 2021. The Rodeo Run, presented by ConocoPhillips, will be held in a virtual format, with details to be announced once available.
“The Rodeo and our volunteers are committed to continuing to provide fans with a community event that all can be proud of,” Boleman said. “We look forward to welcoming Rodeo fans back to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2022 for our 90th anniversary celebration.”
Dates and information for the 2022 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be announced once available.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo promotes agriculture by hosting an annual, family-friendly experience that educates and entertains the public, supports Texas youth, showcases Western heritage and provides year-round educational support within the community. Since its beginning in 1932, the Rodeo has committed more than $500 million to the youth of Texas and education. For more information, visit rodeohouston.com and connect with #RODEOHOUSTON online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for all the latest news.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's reaction
Today, Mayor Sylvester Turner issued the following statement in support of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo:
"The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the most significant events held in Houston every year. It is part of our western heritage, draws guests from around the world, and provides more than a $220 million boost to the local economy and valuable scholarships to young people pursuing higher education.
"I commend the HLSR for maintaining its commitment to award more than $21 million in scholarships this year to help students attend colleges and universities despite the cancellation.
"I know that canceling the 2021 Rodeo was a difficult decision for President and CEO Chris Boleman and the thousands of dedicated volunteers, vendors, workers, and competitors who make the show successful. I support their decision and look forward to a bigger Houston Rodeo in 2022."
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo's statement
“I want to commend the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for protecting the health and safety of our community. The next few months are crucial to determining if and how fast we’ll be able to reach herd immunity. I know that when it comes to cancelling events like this, it’s never easy - particularly when there is so much at stake for local vendors and residents who have come to depend on the rodeo for scholarship, entertainment, and business. The truth is, the smarter we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 now, the faster we can get back to normal, get our economy running at full speed, and again enjoy amazing events like the Rodeo who make us who we are as a county.”