Rodeo not feeling the recession

March 20, 2009 8:59:51 PM PDT
There aren't as many signs of a recession at Reliant Park. Vendors say business is booming this spring break and they're making more money. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

If you think the recession is affecting everything, you're right. However, it's not necessarily playing out how you might expect.

Folks are coming through the gates at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at almost the same pace as last year. Rodeo leaders say attendance is down only about a percentage point and a half.

"Considering last year was our second best year in history, that's really exciting," said COO Leroy Shafer.

The difference, Shafer says has less to do with the economy and more to do with the cold, wet weather that stifled last weekend. Shafer expects a busy weekend ahead, starting with Taylor Swift's show Friday night which is sold out.

The one place where tightened purse strings are being noticed is at the livestock auctions. In many cases bids are down in double digit percentages

"We're seeing an effect there," said Shafer.

Food vendors say sales are up significantly though, as much as 16%. Tad Blood of Tad's Bodacious Burritos says the sales increase is due in part to folks staying home for spring break.

"If you're trading down in a recession, festivals, rodeos, state fairs become more (crowded). That's a way to entertain that's less expensive than a trip," said Blood.

There's still a couple days left at the rodeo including Brooks and Dunn on Saturday and ZZ Top on Sunday.

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