Houston Rodeo closure due to COVID-19 has major effect on local livestock projects

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Working with her steer, senior Grace Hoegemeyer spends time preparing for the show at the Houston Livestock Show. She and thousands of other FFA and 4-H members cannot show their projects due to the closure of the event. “I wish it would have been possible to just close the livestock show off to the public and continue to show and sell the animals.”

As the truck joined the line of trailers waiting to drop off the heifers, seniors Hayden Feist and Brandon Oestrich had no idea what the next few hours would bring.

The journey that started last year when they caught heifers at the rodeo was coming full circle as they prepared to show off their hard work.

Then the news hit. The unthinkable happened. Effective at 4:00 p.m. on March 11, 2020, the rodeo and livestock was closed.

For over 80 years the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has entertained and educated the area while giving youth a chance to work hard and show off their projects. The closure of the rodeo is more than missed concerts and carnival rides. It is devastating to the livestock exhibitors who will not have an opportunity to show. 

Contestants and especially seniors who have worked so hard over the past year to compete in the livestock shows won’t be able to participate in any events due to the severity of this virus.

“I will not be able to exhibit my steer anywhere else,” senior Grace Hoegemeyer said. “We have fed this calf to get him to the perfect weight and marketability to do well at Houston specifically.”

A lot of people are feeling for the seniors who are missing out on the last time they’re able to show their livestock in events like HLSR and MOCO.

“As an ag teacher I am completely heartbroken for the kids,” Amanda Traylor said. “My kiddos have put in countless hours and financial resources to see their projects get to this point and now they’re sent back home.”

This shutdown hasn’t just affected students that participate in the livestock portion of the rodeo, but everyone who attends the concerts.

“My family and I had only attended the rodeo one time this year and we saw Willie Nelson,” senior Delaney Suffield said. “We are extremely disappointed with the cancellation of the rest of the rodeo and our hearts go out to everyone who doesn’t get to show for their last time as a senior.”

Students are so devoted to these events, giving up a lot of time and putting in a lot of effort. It’s a hard thing to deal with now that everything is canceled, especially since there will be no end result.

“I would like to share that I am devastated over this shut down and that although I do understand, it is hard for us seniors who have been showing at Houston since we were in elementary school,” Hoegemeyer said. “I wasn’t expecting to have my senior year opportunity taken away due to this virus. I hope the best for everyone else affected by this decision.”

The seriousness of the coronavirus is growing every day and government officials are doing what they think is best for the citizen by shutting down large events until they get a handle on the virus.

“I was participating in the calf scramble show and also the heifer show at Houston,” senior Hayden Feist said. “I spent a year with my heifer project and three hours a day working with her. I think the city could’ve planned it better and changed it to where exhibitors were still able to show.”