RodeoHouston Canceled for 2021, ‘A Tough Update to Hear’

by Suzanne Halliburton

RodeoHouston, which traditionally features the country’s top cowboys and its biggest musical stars, was canceled Wednesday for the second straight year.

Blame the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A year ago, the cancellation of the Houston Rodeo offered a foreshadowing of things to come. Within days, SXSW in Austin, then the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo became two of the biggest events in the country to call off festivities because of the coronavirus. The Houston Rodeo made the decision after it already had conducted eight days of it.

This year, the Houston rodeo initially was pushed back to May in hopes that the pandemic would’ve lulled enough to allow the big cowboy competition and concerts.

On Wednesday, it was shut down until 2022.

Health, Safety Issues Were Main Concern for RodeoHouston

In announcing the cancellation, RodeoHouston said: “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 canceling the 2021 event was the right decision, with community health at the forefront of the decision.”

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo President Chris Boleman said they were “optimistic” that the event could happen in May. But, he said:

“Unfortunately, it has become evident that the current health situation has not improved to the degree necessary to host our event,” says “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.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that the rodeo probably could’ve been held with limited crowds. But it would’ve taken a huge financial hit. The rodeo, held at NRG Stadium, usually draws 60,000 a night. The Houston Texans played their home games at NRG Stadium last fall in front of about 12,000 fans each Sunday.

Last year’s musical lineup included Maren Morris, Willie Nelson, Gwen Stefani, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.

The rodeo started in 1932. In 2019, George Strait set the NRG Stadium record with his concert performance in conjunction with the Houston rodeo. With special guests Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, Strait celebrated his 30th RodeoHouston performance. He also sang with his young grandson.

The concert drew an audience of 80,108 fans. It broke the old record of 80,020 who saw Strait perform with Martina McBride and Randy Rogers Band.

Strait, personally, has played for more than 1.7 million RodeoHouston fans.