FORT WORTH, Texas - The annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo will be canceled next year because of the pandemic.
Organizers said they made the difficult decision to cancel the event, which typically runs from mid-January through February, because it would rank as “very high risk” for the spread of COVID-19.
“This was a very painful decision that was not made lightly,” the FWSSR said on its Facebook page.
Although organizers said they could safely host some shows and competitions, they did not feel it would be fair to the others. They decided to cancel all events for the year and focus on 2022.
“For months we’ve looked at data. We’ve looked at possible mitigation that could be put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the final decision was to cancel the 2021 show,” explained Matt Brockman with the stock show.
On its busiest days, as many as 150,000 stock show visitors pack multiple venues, including Will Rogers Coliseum and Dickies Arena. Not to mention, there are also the youth livestock exhibitors and the rodeo community who work close together.
“When we looked at the potential severity if we were to have an outbreak and the virus going back to some of these 235 counties, many of which are rural,” Brockman said. “These exhibitors are going back to their parents or grandparents in schools. Their small healthcare systems. We realized it was a very serious issue.”
There has been consideration for a possible abbreviated show or drive-through scenario similar to what the state fair is doing, but the stock show organizers doubt it would rope-in an optimal experience.
“Some embrace the carnival midway, or rodeo shopping, some the junior steer show. And we didn’t want to get into a situation where we were benefiting one aspect of the show at the expense of others,” Brockman said.
"I join the countless number of fans of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in their disappointment over this year’s cancellation. The FWSSR is a beloved tradition that holds a special place in Fort Worth history,” Mayor Betsy Price added in a statement. “However, I am confident that the Board of Directors’ decision to cancel this year’s event was made in the best interest of all fans and participants. The FWSSR attracts visitors from around the globe, and the Stock Show in particular does not allow for adequate social distancing. I appreciate the FWSSR Board’s leadership and look forward to making the 2022 event the best one yet."
2021 was set to be the second year for the stock show and rodeo in the Dickies Arena. A record crowd of more than 1 million people attended the event at the newly-built arena in Downtown Fort Worth before the pandemic began in 2020.
The only other time the FWSSR was canceled was in 1943 because of World War II.