Rodeo Houston ends with protests

March 23, 2009 2:49:57 AM PDT
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is set to wrap up another year, but some groups are demanding changes by protesting the operations.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Hispanic and African American groups spent time outside Reliant Stadium for the last day of the rodeo to get their message out. The groups want more minority representation. Some state lawmakers have even filed bills wanting to make the rodeo operations more diverse.

Protestors also asked for more transparency and inclusiveness from the rodeo. That includes the way contracts are given to potential businesses that work with the rodeo.

"It's time the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo board of directors starts answering these questions," said State Sen. Mario Gallegos. "These people coming in, paying at the gate, should be allowed to ask these questions and get answers from the rodeo."

"There's many contracts here at the Houston rodeo, and yet the business community at large never hears about them," said protestor Ben Mendez. "We want the process so that all business can participate."

The rodeo says it has opened its books for the groups in the past and to the extent the law requires in attempts to answer their questions.

"We have 8,000 vendors that we do business with at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and I can assure we don't have 8,000 board members," said Leroy Shafer who is the CEO of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. "In fact, if you look at it, the majority of our board members don't do business with us. Some do and those are reported on our 990."

Shafer says the rodeo is thinking of hosting a business fair later this year so those interested in doing business with the rodeo have a better understanding of how to go about that.

He also adds that mid-afternoon this year, the rodeo tapped last year's attendance. It is standing out at 1.8 million visitors to the rodeo. The rodeo set a single day attendance record on Go Tejano Day when Ramon Ayala and Alacranes Musicales drew more than 74,000 fans to Reliant Stadium. World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest also set an all-time record with 217,000 hungry visitors.

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