RodeoHouston's May start in 2021 canceled altogether

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A year after the pandemic cut the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo short in 2020, this year's festivities, which was already pushed back later than its traditional February/March start, will not go on as scheduled in May.

On Wednesday, Rodeo President and CEO Chris Boleman announced the cancellation of RodeoHouston due to the ongoing health situation.

The Junior Livestock and Horse Show competitions will still be held as private events in March, as previously announced.

The Junior Market Auctions and Champion Wine Auction will also still be held in May, also as private events. These events will follow all state and local health and safety guidelines, the rodeo said.

ABC13 will carry some of the private RodeoHouston events in March live on our streaming apps, including those for Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Boleman said organizers are now focused on putting on the 2022 event.

WATCH: RodeoHouston president/CEO makes 'heartbreaking' announcement to cancel the 2021 show
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Chris Boleman, the president and CEO of RodeoHouston, explains what is off and what is still on for the 2021 slate of livestock show events.

Late last year, RodeoHouston postponed the start of the event to May 4. At the time the rescheduled date was announced, organizers stated the dates were tentative pending COVID-19 health status.

"While we were optimistic that moving our Rodeo to May would provide a better opportunity to host our annual community event that Rodeo fans have come to love and expect, unfortunately, it has become evident that the current health situation has not improved to the degree necessary to host our event," said Boleman. "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 rodeo added several factors contributed to the decision, from a community health and safety perspective, as well as a financial one.

"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 cancelling the 2021 event was the right decision, with community health at the forefront of the decision," the rodeo stated in its announcement.

FULL INTERVIEW: RodeoHouston CEO explains what led to organizers deciding to call off the 2021 event

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In the video, ABC13's Steve Campion spoke to RodeoHouston President and CEO Chris Boleman shortly after the 2021 event's cancellation was made official.

Concerns over the still-raging coronavirus pandemic has forced other major rodeo events in Texas to revisit their plans. Last month, Rodeo Austin canceled its main events in March, and the Bexar County Judge is calling for San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo organizers to postponed their Feb. 11 start date.

The 2020 Rodeo was shut down abruptly on March 11 when Judge Lina Hidalgo and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced an emergency health declaration, effectively shutting down the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo along with its entertainment division, RodeoHouston.

This time around, Turner offered his support to the organizers in the wake of the cancellation.

"I commend the HLSR for maintaining its commitment to award more than $21 million in scholarships this year to help students attend colleges and universities despite the cancellation," the mayor said in a statement. "I know that canceling the 2021 Rodeo was a difficult decision for President and CEO Chris Boleman and the thousands of dedicated volunteers, vendors, workers, and competitors who make the show successful. I support their decision and look forward to a bigger Houston Rodeo in 2022."

Harris County Judge Hidalgo echoed Turner's sentiments, recognizing the need for safety right now:

"I want to commend the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for protecting the health and safety of our community. The next few months are crucial to determining if and how fast we'll be able to reach herd immunity. I know that when it comes to cancelling events like this, it's never easy - particularly when there is so much at stake for local vendors and residents who have come to depend on the rodeo for scholarship, entertainment, and business. The truth is, the smarter we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19 now, the faster we can get back to normal, get our economy running at full speed, and again enjoy amazing events like the Rodeo who make us who we are as a county."

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After the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was canceled, Katy ISD stepped in to help by providing a barn shelter for participant's animals.

Outside of last year, Boleman said the last time the rodeo was canceled was in 1937.


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