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The Complete Guide to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

The Complete Guide to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo offers Texas the best entertainment, humanitarian initiatives, and educational experiences. This occasion is a show unlike any other because it is the biggest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the entire world. 

Houston attracts tourists from all over the world who want to experience Western history. 

We’ve put together this guide with everything you need to know before attending the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for rodeo novices who are not locals and anyone else who is not a Houston regular.

What is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo?

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the largest livestock exposition and rodeo in the world, better known as RodeoHouston. 

Website Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
AddressNRG Pkwy, Houston, TX 77054 USA
Contact Info832-667-1000
DatesFebruary 28 - March 19th

Tickets to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo 

Tickets to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

There are two types of admission tickets that you can purchase online before the rodeo to enjoy a fun-filled day of endless activities. 

Ticket sales end during the event daily at 9 PM. If you’re purchasing your tickets online the sales close at 8:30 PM. 

NRG Park Admission

• Adult (13+) : $20

• Child: $10

• 2 and under are free


• Access to All Activities at NRG Arena, NRG Center and NRG Park

• Horse Show & Other Events

• Carnival Admission

*No Refunds*

Grounds Season Pass


• Admission during the Run of the Show to All Activities at NRG Center, NRG Park and NRG Arena

• Carnival Admission

• World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest Daily Admission

*No Refunds*

Rodeo & Concert Tickets 

Unfortunately admission to NRG Park, does not guarantee you’ll experience all there is to offer at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. 

There are separate tickets for the rodeo that allow you to experience a concert and access to all events at NRG Park. 

Individual Performances

• If you want to go to the rodeo on a specific night, you can purchase tickets for both the rodeo and a concert for a starting price of $25.

Premium Seating

• For premium seating you can go solo or with a group of friends. If you're bringing thirty people with you, you can consider going for a private suite.

• With premium seating, you can enjoy access to the Chairman’s Club, meals, and bar service.

Season Tickets

• Season tickets lets you stay in the same spot for every performance. However, you can only purchase four per family.

Individual Performances

• Upper Level: $25-$30

• Loge Level: $40

• Club Level: $50 - $55

• Field Level: $44

• Action: $155

• Hess Chute: $375

Premium Seating

• Chairman’s Club: $150

• Shared Suite: $279 (per person)

• Entertainment Suite: $8,390

Season Tickets

• Upper Level: $500-$600

• Loge Level: $800

• Field Level: $880

• Club Level: $1,000 - $1,100

• Action Seats: $3,100

• Hess Chute Seat: $7,500

*No Refunds*

Online ticket sales for concerts and the rodeo end two hours before the start of the event. Onsite tickets sales end right before the concert and rodeo begins. 

Parking & Transportation

Parking & Transportation

There are four different ways to get to the rodeo. You can drive your own car, take a ride share, or a taxi. 

If you’re planning on getting your car detailed before the rodeo, we’ve put together a chart showing the different parking options you have to guarantee your car doesn’t get a single scratch on it. 

Drop Offs & Pick UpsParking
There are a few locations you can get dropped off and picked up at if you’re taking a ride share, taxi or a limo.

• Kirby Drive : Gate 9

- Closes at 9PM on weekdays, 6 PM on weekends

• Yellow Lot: Entrance Gate 16 B Taxi Drop Off : Gate 14 Teal Lot

• Limo Drop Off : Gate 13 Green Lot

• Blue Lot (6 AM to 10 PM) : $25 per day

• Yellow Lot (6 AM to 10 PM) : $25 per day

• Parking is limited to first come first serve basis only. Handicapped parking is available too.


The trams take you from the parking lot to the NRG Park, Center & Arena for free. 

Here is the tram schedule. 

  • Blue Line : NRG Stadium, Arena, & Blue Lot – 9 AM to 2 PM 
  • Yellow Line: NRG Stadium & Yellow Lot – 9 AM to 11:30 PM 
  • Red Line: NRG Center & Red Lot – 8 AM to 2 AM 
  • Orange Line: NRG Center & NRG Arena – 9 AM to 2 AM 
  • Pink Line: NRG Park & 610 Lot – 9 AM to 2 AM

Events Before the Rodeo 

Events Before the Rodeo

Here are a few events to check out before the rodeo begins. 

Roundup & Best Bites

LocationNRG Center, Halls D and E

Grand Cru Guest Reception

PricesIndividual tickets: $165

Reserved tables: $2,000

Premium tables: $2,500

Grand Cru tables: $5,000

DateFeb 19th

5:15 PM - Grand Gru

6 PM - Table Guests

6:30 PM - General Admission

This is a top destination for wine fans, food journalists, and foodies alike, offering more than 450 award-winning wines and over 100 unique meals from the best restaurants and culinary institutions in the area.

Bar-B-Que Contest 

From Feb. 23 – 25th, The World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, features more than 250 teams of expert grillers.

Although most team tents require an invitation, guests can still enjoy a number of open spaces, such as The Garden, Rockin’ Bar-B-Que Saloon, and the Chuckwagon. Also available are the wild rides and entertaining activities at the carnival.

Visitors can pick up their complimentary sliced brisket plate with chips and beans from the Chuckwagon inside the saloon.

WCBBQ Jr. Cook-off Contest

If your child has been watching your cooking classes, then this is the perfect competition for them. 

Children (8-14) compete with a single steak that is evaluated for presentation, tenderness, and flavor. At 11 a.m., prizes aregiven to the top 3 competitors.

Go Texan Day 

Go Texan Day falls on February 24, since it serves as the unofficial start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. To celebrate, dress Western-style with jeans, cowboy boots, and hats. 

Rodeo Roundup 

LocationHouston City Hall in Hermann Square
DateFebruary 24th

This free event in downtown Houston is open to all Houstonians. The ceremony  begins with a declaration of Go Texan Day by Mayor Sylvester Turner, followed by complimentary chopped barbecue sandwiches from the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Committee.

Downtown Rodeo Parade 

Houston changes from a busy metropolis to a rural celebration of Western history on February 25. Thousands of people riding horses fill the streets with the sounds of hoof beats and marching bands as they coexist with decorative floats.

Champion Wine Auction & Dinner

Reception & Silent Auction5:00 PM
Dinner6:00 PM
Live Auction7:00 PM

The Champion Wine Auction & Dinner offers more than 450 medal-winning wines. Guests can savor a five-star dinner and cocktail service while supporting one of the state’s most effective nonprofits and bidding on one-of-a-kind goods and experiences in our Silent Auction. 

The price ranges for auction tables are $6,000, $9,000, $12,000, and $25,000, and each one seats ten people.

Things to Do At the Rodeo 

Things to Do At the Rodeo

Below are a few of the events and activities you can do during the rodeo. 

Concerts & Performances

Weekday RodeosStart Time: 6:45 PM

Entertainment: 9 PM

Weekend RodeosStart Time: 3:45 PM

Entertainment: 6 PM

• Stadium gates open at 3 PM

After the rodeo chutes close and the arena dirt settles, each night’s presentation features a cutting-edge stage and lighting setup. See the best rodeo and concert Texas has to offer by getting there early!

The Hideout 

At The Hideout, the Rodeo’s very own honky tonk, dance the night away! From 6 PM to midnight, The Hideout is open to people 21 and older and is included in the price of entry to NRG Park. 

Break out those dance moves from your dance classes, because The Hideout has a large dance floor, bars, and some of the top up-and-coming musicians. 

The Hideout is housed in a white tent on the west side of NRG Arena.

Rodeo Rockstar 


  • Junior Division (6-15) 
  • Senior Division (16-21) 
  • Group Division (6-21)


  • A Day in a Recording Studio 
  • $1000 in cash 
  • Invite to perform in the Downtown Rodeo Parade
  • One free Whataburger per week for a year

The competition is free and open to non-professional singers. 

All performances must be a cappella or with live accompaniment.


LocationHall A of NRG Center
Time9 AM to 9 PM Daily

Learn all about agriculture at Agventure. It’s a wonderful location for both kids and adults. 

There are numerous live animal exhibits inside this entertaining and educational area, which contains almost every type of livestock. Unless otherwise stated, admission to NRG Park includes access to Agventure.


Fly 130 feet in the air on the opulent Rodeo Ferris wheel, or visit the carnival nearby for quick access to all the best dishes including turkey legs, corn dogs, funnel cakes, and cotton candy.

Ranching & Wildlife Expo 

A variety of wildlife exhibits and instructional sessions are included at the Ranching & Wildlife Expo. Hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventure tours are offered in a special auction.


There is something for everyone to enjoy with more than 300 vendors. You’ll find the finest Western attire, furniture, and finds.

The Junction 

Time: 9 AM to 9 PM Daily

With rides, games, and entertaining exhibitions, the kid-oriented The Junction puts guests’ sense of adventure to the test. With its vintage double carousel and other vintage carnival attractions, parents and children both appreciate this area.

Champion Wine Garden 

Location: Carruth Plaza at NRG Park
Mondays - Thursdays4 PM to 11 PM
Fridays2 PM to 12 AM
Saturdays11 AM to 12 AM
Sundays10 AM to 10 PM

The Champion Wine Garden is a haven that provides a fun environment, excellent entertainment from up-and-coming Texas celebrities, and the opportunity to sample more than 75 award-winning wines. 

Reservations for tents and tables are accepted.

Rodeo Lineup

Rodeo Lineup

So you’ve made it to the rodeo. Here is what to expect during the rodeo. 

Grand Entry 

Grand Entry

The show officially starts when the gate opens and Rodeo officials ride up on horses. 

Every night, a colorful display of Rodeo officials, dignitaries, sponsors, volunteers, and special guests is presented to fans along the winding route of horses, buggies, carriages, hay wagons, and fire trucks.

National Anthem Salute

National Anthem Salute

The nightly shows begin with the sound of fireworks and patriotic cheers. The American flag is carried around the arena by a skilled trick rider while she is mounted on her horse. 

The “Star Spangled Banner” is sung while the crowd stands up and takes off their cowboy hats.

Tie-Down Roping 

Tie-Down Roping

In this timed competition, the horse and rider must work in unison to catch and restrain the runaway calf, who is given a head start. 

The calf trips a lever that releases the barrier on the roping box when it is a specific distance from the chute. The roper and his horse set off in chase as soon as the barrier opens.

The cowboy quickly slings the rope over his head and launches it forward to wrap around the calf’s neck. Once the horse has stopped sliding, the roper can get off and run over to the calf. 

When the roper reaches the calf, he rapidly flips it over and starts tying any three of its legs. The roper stops the clock by throwing his hands in the air after tying the calf.

The horse and rider must not breach the barrier to avoid a 10-second time penalty. The calf must remain tied for a minimum of three seconds after the roper takes his or her initial step away from the bound animal in order for the roper’s time to be recorded. 

The team will receive a no-time if the calf becomes untied within this time.

Bareback Riding 

Bareback Riding

The cowboy’s strength and capacity to maintain balance without the aid of equipment are put to the test while bareback riding. Thus, in order to reach the eight-second whistle, the rider can only rely on his technique and training. 

Choosing the right mount in the chute is the first step to a successful ride. Before the horse’s front feet touch the arena floor during the first jump, the rider must maintain his front legs over the horse’s shoulders while lying flat on the animal’s back.

The rider must also hold one hand on the rigging, a leather strap fastened behind the horse’s front legs, and the other hand in the air as the chute gate opens. At any time throughout the ride, the rider will be disqualified if his free hand touches himself, the rigging, or the horse. 

In this competition, both the horse and the rider are judged. The cowboy should continuously spur throughout the ride in time with the horse’s bucking motion. 

The cyclist can retain balance and good form thanks to this. Before each performance, stock contractors choose a different horse for the rider to try if the horse doesn’t buck or performs poorly.

Team Roping 

Team Roping

Cowboys are able to collaborate in the arena while team roping. Teamwork and trust are essential in this timed competition because anything can happen when the steer is let loose from the chute. 

The header, or first roper, is placed to the left of the steer, while the heeler, or second roper, is placed to the right of the steer.

Before the heeler can wrap his rope around the steer’s back legs as the header exits the roping box, he must first rope the steer around both horns. The team receives a no-score if the header goes off target. 

In order to spin the steer for the heeler to catch, the header must loop or “dally” his rope around the saddle horn. The team will lose five seconds if the heeler only catches one leg. 

If the header breaks the barrier by leaving the box too quickly, the team will also be punished. Time is declared when the steer is securely held by the ropes and both horses are facing one another.

Saddle Bronc Riding 

Saddle Bronc Riding

Cowboys are required to keep the horse under control, sit firmly in the saddle, and grasp onto a tightly braided rein attached to the horse’s halter as soon as the chute gate opens. 

Along with spurring in time with the horse’s jumps, the rider must maintain his free hand in the air and both feet in the stirrups. The rider shall be disqualified if his stirrups come off or if, at any time, his free hand comes in contact with the rein or the horse.

Up until the horse clears its first jump, the rider’s front feet ‘ heels must remain above the animal’s shoulders. The rider will undoubtedly succeed if he is able to maintain control and draws a fit horse.

Steer Wrestling

Steer Wrestling

A runaway steer weighing up to 600 pounds is tackled and flipped by cowboys using their muscle and body weight. 

During this competition, cowboys put their skill, athleticism, and luck to the test. The steer wrestler and his horse are waiting patiently behind a rope barrier next to a steer in a chute when they start off in a holding pen, also known as the “box.”

The steer sprints forward as soon as the chute gate opens, and the timer begins. The barrier is tripped when the steer is a specified distance from the box, and the steer wrestler starts pursuing the steer. 

The steer wrestler is penalized 10 seconds if he “trips the barrier” and exits the box too soon. 

Steer wrestlers off their horses, wrap their arms around the steer’s horns, plant their feet firmly on the ground, and turn the steer onto its back with the help of a hazer, a second cowboy on horseback who maintains the steer going in a straight line. 

Only when the steer’s four legs are pointed in the same direction and it lies totally flat on the ground does the clock stop.

Barrel Racing 

Barrel Racing

The horse and rider must work as a team throughout this all-rodeo women’s competition. The cowgirl maneuvers her horse around a triangle-shaped cloverleaf pattern made up of three barrels as she races against the clock. 

The rider can choose to direct her horse to the left or right barrel first as she sprints full-speed into the ring. In a perfect world, the rider circles each barrel sharply without tipping any of them over. 

A five second penalty will be imposed to the total time if the rider tips a barrel. There is no space for error in a situation where every second matters.

Bull Riding

Bull Riding

In bull riding, the cowboy’s physical prowess and skill are put to the test as he contends with a bull that can weigh up to 2,000 pounds in an effort to knock the rider off his feet. 

The bull rider must exhibit extreme balance and attention while holding onto a bull rope with just one hand. A flat, braided rope known as a “bull rope” is used to wrap the bull’s torso.

When the cowboy lets go, a heavy metal bell that is suspended in the middle of the rope comes loose from the animal. Similar to other rough stock competitions, bull riders who touch themselves, the bull rope, or the animal with their free hand at any time throughout the ride may be disqualified. 

The performance of the rider and the bull is evaluated on a scale of 100 points for this contest. If the rider is fortunate enough to reach the eight second whistle, his ability to maintain composure and proper technique during the ride will be evaluated. 

The bull is evaluated based on his athleticism and bucking behavior.

Chuck Wagon Races

Chuck Wagon Races

A team of six highly bred horses pull wagons in a figure 8 pattern in NRG Stadium under the control of daring cowboys or cowgirls. A maximum of three chuckwagon teams can enter the stadium at once. 

The lead driver must, per an unwritten rule in this race, shift his or her team to the outside circle of the track so that the other teams can access the inner lane and have a chance to catch up.

Calf Scramble

Calf Scramble

In order to catch one of the 15 calves dashing around, 30 Texas 4-H and FFA members swap their boots for tennis shoes during this event. $1,750 is given to the fortunate members who successfully catch a calf to use toward the purchase of a market steer or registered beef heifer at the Houston Livestock Show. 

If program requirements are met, participants who return to the rodeo the following year can compete and receive a $250 bonus payment.

Mutton Bustin’

Mutton Bustin

Cowboys and cowgirls fasten their jeans and mount sheep, commonly known as mutton, an unusual rough stock animal. As the determined 5- and 6-year-olds burst out of the chute for an exhilarating and unforgettable ride, the audience cheers and smiles. 

All competitors in the mutton bustin’ competition are victors, but the rider who hangs on the longest will get a shiny, gold belt buckle and a thunderous round of cheers from the audience. 

All mutton bustin’ contestants must be between the ages of five and six and weigh no more than 55 pounds to be eligible.

Breakaway Roping 

Breakaway Roping

With a roper in the box and a calf in the chute, breakaway roping is a type of calf roping. The clock starts ticking and the calf is given a head start when the roper nods to release it. 

The roper must stop their horse and use a “bell collar catch” to rope the calf. The rope “breaks away” from the saddle where it is fastened with a piece of string when it is tugged tightly.

When the string breaks, the calf is released and the clock stops. Most breakaway runs last between 2 and 4 seconds. 

Not giving the calf the proper head start will result in a broken barrier and a 10 second penalty. An illegal catch, like roping feet in the loop, will result in a no-time. 

Only the calf is allowed to break the rope free from the saddle, if the roper manually releases the rope, it will also result in a no-time.

Livestock & Horse Show

Livestock & Horse Show

Here are the different events apart of the Livestock & Horse Shows. 


Junior Show 

  • From rabbits and chickens to goats and steers, students bring a variety of livestock in an effort to win the coveted title of Houston champion. Each exhibitor spends months practicing in order to compete against the best junior cattle Texas has to offer.

Open Show

  • Each spring, exhibitors of all ages travel to the Houston Livestock Show to compete for a championship title. Youth-only competitions are also a part of the open show, giving kids the chance to exhibit in the biggest livestock show in the world and get experience in the show ring at a young age.

Horse Shows

Cutting Horse Show

  • A herd of 25 to 30 cattle is typically held at one end of the arena during a cutting horse competition. When a horse’s name is called, its rider directs it into the herd in the direction of the cow they believe will best test the horse’s “cutting” prowess. 

Donkey and Mule Show

  • This event comprises the well-known coon mule leap and single hitch obstacle driving competitions in addition to the donkey and mule racing. The donkey and mule with the widest measurable ear spans will also win the “Ear of the Year” trophies.

Paint Horse Show

  • The American Paint Horse Association must have all horses entered in the Paint Horse Show registered. The breed standard for the Paint Horse is based on color. 
  • The ability of the horse to exhibit the desired movements through a trail or reining pattern (spinning, navigating obstacles, and changing gaits) or the ability of the rider to control the horse, and jumping over fences is used to judge the horses.

Quarter Horse Show

  • There are roping (breakaway, tie-down, heading, and heeling) and speed events at the Quarter Horse Show (barrel racing and pole bending). 

Ranch Horse Competition

  • As competitors in events modeled after those on a working ranch, horses are shown off for their flexibility in the Ranch Horse Competition. 
  • Ranch Trail, Ranch Reining, Ranch Riding, Ranch Pleasure, and Ranch Conformation are among the events. Horses are evaluated based on both their outward look and their aptitude for navigating different patterns.

Ranch Rodeo

  • Cowboys and cowgirls compete for the fastest timings in activities including calf “branding” (with chalk), wild cow milking, bronc riding, and pasture doctoring during this frantic, demanding tournament. The visitor can get a close-up view of ranch life at this precursor to modern rodeo championships. 

Ranch Sorting

  • In the Ranch Sorting event, competitors (two riders per team) must move 10 head of cattle from one pen to another in numerical order, starting with a randomly called number between zero and nine. 
  • For example, if the number “six” is called, the cattle must be penned starting with animal six, then animal seven, and so on, with animal number five being penned last. The team loses points if a cow enters the corral out of order by number.

Youth Horse Shows

  • The Young Horse Show features classes for both registered and unregistered horses. It is an all-breed youth horse show. 
  • Participants must be under 18.

Must Try Foods at the Rodeo 

Must Try Foods at the Rodeo

Everyone can find something to savor. Be bold and try some of the amazing dishes the Rodeo has to offer.

Southern Fried Saloon – Southern Fried Chicken Alfredo Ball

Southern Fried Saloon – Southern Fried Chicken Alfredo Ball

Fettuccine alfredo, southern fried chicken bits, and fresh mozzarella cheese-filled in a golden fried ball. Italian parsley, fresh basil, grated parmesan cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper are used as garnishes. 

You can eat this with a side of fried asparagus stalks with lemon pepper and a toasted garlic-parmesan baguette.

Swain’s Concessions – Pickle Pizza

Swain’s Concessions – Pickle Pizza

Pickle pizza? Sounds odd, but it’s one of the top loved treats at the Houston Rodeo. Pickle pizza consists of dill cream sauce, cheese, spices and of course, dill pickles.

Cajun Cowboy – Deep Fried Jambalaya Roll

Cajun Cowboy – Deep Fried Jambalaya Roll

This wonderful combination of flavors is mixed with bite-sized pieces of chicken and delectable sausage, which are coupled with rice and Cajun seasonings. It’s served with a zesty dipping sauce and deep-fried to a golden brown perfection, making it a must-have right away. 



Just as you can volunteer at a nonprofit organization, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo accepts volunteers to help out with the different committees that help bring the rodeo to life. 

CommitteesWhat They Do
Agriculture Education

• Teach Agriculture Awareness

Communications & Special Services

• Publicize the Rodeo Show

• Photograph Calf Scramble & Contest Winners

• Conduct Surveys

Corral Club

• Operation of All Corral Club Maintenance and Facilities

Directions & Assistance

• Assist Guests with Information

• Operators of the Lost and Found Room

• Distribute the Show’s Visitor Guide

Facility Services

• Oversees Contractors and Cleaning Personnel


• Makes Sure That Customers Enter Properly

• Extends Courtesy and Confirms Passage via the Entry Gates.

Houston Metro Go Texan

• Raises Interest in the Rodeo

Midway Ticket

• Sells Tickets Throughout the Rodeo’s Operating Hours


• Conducts and Coordinates the Rabbit Show

• Assembles Trophy Donors


• Manages the Extensive Recycling Program for the Rodeo

Rodeo Express

• Aids in the Efficient Movement of Light Rail and Bus Traffic at NRG Park and at Off-Site Parking Lots

Rodeo Merchandise

• Sale and Distribution of Goods Featuring the Rodeo’s Branding

• Promote and Increase Awareness of the Rodeo

Rodeo Operations

• Assist the Structures and Grounds Department in the Construction, Maintenance, and Dismantling of NRG Park’s Buildings and Grounds

School Art Auction

• In Charge of Selling Winning Student Artwork in Advance

• Hosts the School Art Auction

• Distributes Grand Champion Prints

• Organizes and Carries Out the Pre-auction and Buyer’s Parties


• Contact Business Groups, Service Clubs, Local Schools, and Other Relevant Organizations to Offer Speaker Services

• Hosts Rookie Boot Camp Annually


• Handles All Transportations Needs of Show Patrons and Guests

• Provides Automobiles and Trams

• Handles Special Transportation

Wine Garden

• Hosts and Manages the Operation of the Wine Garden

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