By: Rachel Cutrer
Once again it’s rodeo time in Houston, and naturally my Facebook feed has been filled with lots of Memes and funny jokes about the show. I myself shared the one about the stick people in the border wall, because even if you try to avoid political post like me, that’s just funny. On the first day I was at the show I pulled that meme up and showed it to one of the stick persons, who had not seen it, and it was awesome.
Sure, putting on an event of that size has some headaches. You have to sit in a trailer line for a while. You have about an hour wait if you try to go to the Pappadeaux’s right there by Reliant, and yes traffic is pretty hectic.
As a youngster, I thought of Houston Livestock Show for their scholarships. I wasn’t fortunate enough to win one, but I remember the great feeling every semester for many of my Ag friends when their HlSR scholarship came in. The Houston Livestock Show paid for many of my friends college educations. Friends who are now professors, lawyers, doctors, moms, dads, and more.
But, as an adult breeder and exhibitor, I appreciate Houston so much more now then when I was a 4-H and FFA member. There is no show on earth like Houston. And I love it. I love every single minute of it. And here’s why….
The way a “city” persons face lights up when they see my bull for the first time.
At our stalls we always put our biggest three-year-old bull right at the edge of our aisle. This year that bull weighed well over 2000 pounds. Seeing the sheer amazement and excitement when a city child sees that bull is worth every moment of waiting in a trailer line. Their face lights up. They look at their parents with big wide eyes. Chances are, that’s the biggest bull they’ve ever seen in their life. It may be the only bull they’ve ever seen in their life. Then come the questions: How much does he weigh? How old is he? What’s his name? What is he? Can I pet him? I gladly answer everyone of these questions, usually in detail, and with a smile.
As a rancher, this is my biggest opportunity of the year to share my passion for agriculture with people who may not know that much about it. Many are surprised to hear our ranch is just an hour from downtown Houston. A lot have never even heard of my small town. Yes, sometimes we get a few laughs if the animal poops while they’re standing there, but it creates an opportunity for a conversation that is more of what we need in agriculture. Ranchers being honest and transparent with the consumers. Bridging the gap between what people may see online or on TV and what ranchers do in real life.
And yes, I will let them pet my bull every single time. Every person who asks. I take their picture together – their family with my bull – Because I guarantee they will remember that moment and that “big ol’ bull” for their lifetime.
The Economic Impact
From a business standpoint, the Houston livestock show creates an event for the Texas cattle industry every March that is like an electric shock to the purebred cattle business, especially if you raise Brahman Cattle.
It’s an “event.” It gets people interested in your cattle, and your breed. It gets people off their farms and into town to see what everyone brings to the show. It creates a huge buzz that continues for months. Our business is dependent on the economic impact from HLSR contacts, sales, and information. That’s why we bring a lot of cattle to the show. It’s why we do a big fancy booth for hospitality. It’s our single biggest business event of the year.
The International Presence.
There are a lot of great shows in the United States that I love dearly, but none can compare to the international presence of the Houston livestock show and rodeo. This year at our booth we had people stop by from North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. We are also noticing new markets emerging like Pakistan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The Houston Livestock Show does this for us. They are the hub that connects ranchers from around the globe.
Why do all the international ranchers come to Houston? Well, for one it’s a great city! Has a great airport. Great food and hotels. Great shopping. And, hospitality unmatched.
Yeah yeah we’ve all seen the memes about rodeo fashion, but hey, I love it. If I could pull off wearing a cowboy hat I totally would! I joked with my friends that every day in the month of January and February I wore yoga pants and a baseball cap – but then Houston starts and I’m all rodeo fashionista! It’s fun! Everyone deserves to dress a little Ranchy once in a while!
The Kindness of Volunteers
I have to say, the HLSR volunteers have hearts made of gold. Every volunteer has a smile! From the Breeder Greeter who’s helping you unload feed sacks in the pouring rain to the golf cart driver who picks you up at the end of the day when your feet are give out – they care.
I truly hope these volunteers know how special they are. Their hard work is what makes it possible for ranchers like me to be at the show, to do international business, and to enjoy the week. They put everyone else above themselves with a servant heart and honestly in my opinion it’s the volunteers that make the show what it is.
The Education and Friendship
Right after the Brahman show was over, one of my friends texted me on his way home and said “We just left Houston and are so re-energized about the Brahman business! We can’t wait to get home and go to work!”
And friends, isn’t that what this show is all about? Igniting (or re-igniting) your passion for agriculture.
Whether you’re a seasoned rancher, or a city person who lives in a high-rise in downtown Houston, we all have a passion for agriculture, and when it gets down to it, every Texan has a little bit of cowboy in them.
And above all – Thank you!! Thank you to the HLSR staff and thousands of volunteers who make it possible for country people like me to “live the dream” for a week each March at the show.