Intro to the Houston Livestock and Rodeo
February 24, 2012
The 2012 Houston Livestock & Rodeo’s World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest is officially under way and we’re on hand to cover it all! To kick things off, we met up with Jeff Jones, the WCBBQ Chairman, to get the lowdown on this massive event.
Jeff, perhaps you can tell Grilling.com a bit about the Houston Livestock & Rodeo? What can people expect to see over the 20 day period?
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo celebrates its 80th year anniversary this year. It’s the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo, with more than 2.2 million visitors in 2011. It also features superstars in concert representing nearly all genres of music.
Additionally, the Show has shopping and dining opportunities, a carnival midway; educational exhibits and much more – all at family-affordable prices. More than 26,000 volunteers greatly ensure each year’s success.
When did the barbecue contest become part of the event?
39 yrs ago it became an official event of HLS&R. That was in 1974. There were 17 teams competing back then.
How large was the event back in those early days?
It was just a small group of people who just got together and had a good time.
And I believe you all were close to a quarter million total attendees last year. What’s the estimate this year?
We have been fortunate to have record breaking crowds and hope to top last year’s mark of 244,184 guests. Weather plays a huge part of our success.
How many teams do you expect to compete?
We have 427 teams competing this year.
So I’ve been to Memphis in May and to the American Royal. How does “The Cookoff” stackup against those two monster events?
We have been fortunate enough to be mentioned as being in the same category as these two cook-off’s but we are different in that we do not offer prize money. Our contest raises money for the HLS&R. Bragging rights are huge here in Texas and trophies and a Grand Champion Belt buckle helps as well!
Care to share some examples of the more extravagant setups and parties you’ve seen from competitions?
Seeing is believing. We have teams who have running streams, Saloon and Alamo facades, pits with flat screens. The imagination and resources they put into their spaces is truly amazing.
I’m looking forward to getting a hands on feel for the contest today! In the meantime, is there anything else about the event you’d like to share with our readers?
What makes this contest so special is the family atmosphere between the teams and the volunteers that helps our contest grow and be successful. Through this relationship and the support of HLS&R we were able to gross $3.4 million dollars to support the show. The HLS&R had a 2011-2012 Total Educational Commitment of $18,810,880. It is truly a remarkable cause and a pleasure to be a part of.
- Clint Cantwell, Grilling.com Editor