Go Tejano protestors gather outside Reliant

March 17, 2008 9:16:38 AM PDT
Hispanics upset over what they call lack of representation at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo -- hit the streets in protest.But, all the controversy, hasn't kept folks away. They're going in record numbers. The protestors are upset over the line-up of music acts for Go Tejano Day. Rodeo officials say it's all a matter of perspective.

The protestors actually wanted people to boycott the Rodeo but in fact Rodeo officials say the opposite happened, more people than ever showed up but that doesn't necessarily mean that the controversy is over.

Hours before "Duelo" and "Los Horoscopos de Dorango" took center stage at tonight's Go Tejano show outside the Rodeo another group of people were singing a very different tune.

"Tejano means Tejano and not Norteno," said protestor Ben Saenz. "This is our day. It's always been our day."

About 100 protestors from a group called, Vive Tejano staged outside the Rodeo upset over a lack of Tejano acts at this year's Go Tejano Day. They are also calling into question Hispanic representation at the Rodeo itself.

"One, we wanted more representation on the board. Two, we want more representation on the staff. Three, we want more contracts. Four, we want more scholarships for the Hispanic community," said Vive Tejano Chairperson Ben Mendez.

Rodeo officials admit their executive committee does not have a single Hispanic on it. However, they say membership generally requires years of participation.

"There are no short cuts in this show," said Leroy Shafer with the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. "I don't care what color you are. I don't care what your orientation is. The people that get to the leadership positions and their volunteer positions on this show earned their way."

They refute any implications that Hispanics are being left out or being denied scholarships by the Rodeo. They are saying that the record-setting crowd today speaks for itself.

"A hundred over there -- a 120,000 over here, I think that tells the story,"

Rodeo goers like the Garcias wouldn't mind seeing more Tejano acts but they say that didn't stop them from going anyway.

"It was fun and all. It really doesn't matter at the end of the day we still had a good time," said Rodeogoer Rock Garcia.

"There is a lot of Hispanics so they are going to pack it in either way," said Rodeogoer Veronica Garcia.

We did speak to the president of the group who organized the protest today and he has questions about the number of people that showed up today. He says he does have a request to speak with Rodeo officials -- he says that request has not yet been fortified so he is waiting for that to happen. If it does not happen they will resort to other measures.

Here's how the numbers stack up when it comes to the Go Tejano Day rodeo record. This year -- more than 71,000 people paid to go to the Rodeo today. That beats the previous Tejano Day record in 2006 of about 70,500 people.

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