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San Antonio Rodeo Busts Attendance Records
Wade Shows reports a near record midway gross

3/20/2017

By Timothy Herrick

Photo courtesy of SA Rodeo Social Media

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Top quality rodeo, an entertainment lined up filled with big-stars and music legends and a thrill-packed midway boasting exciting new ride promotions extended the winning streak of San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo another year. The 2017 edition of one of the leading PRCA Large Indoor Rodeo events in the country continued 12 years of growing attendance, with this year's grounds attendance of more than two million edging out the 2016 attendance, marking a new all-time record.

"The weather was amazingly beautiful, unseasonably warm," said Lauren N. Sides, spokesperson, San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. "We had perfect weather and San Antonio is a growing city and we tried to capture the attention of millennials, who are a growing audience for us. We offer college nights Thursdays for example, so outreach to Photo By SA Rodeo Social Mediacollege students and young people in many ways accounts for some of the attendance growth." 

The San Antonio Rodeo & Stock Show assembled an entertainment lineup with high wattage star power, heavy on classic rock and country. Highlights included John Fogerty, Willie Nelson & Family, Huey Lewis and the News, Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner as well The Band Perry, Chris Janson, Chase Rice and a Hispanic night with Edwin Luna y La Trakalosa de Monterrey and a faith and family night with for KING & COUNTRY. 

"We try to attract age groups and demographics with our entertainment and this year we had a great lineup," said Sides. "The entertainment booking was successful and we touched a lot of bases." 
 
One of the Best
Frank Zaitshik, owner of Wade Shows,, had high praise for this year's edition of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. "We had a very good year," said Zaitshik. "The weather was good. It ranked as one of our best. it was not our best (year on the midway) but it was one of our best."

The Wade Shows midway featured about 50 rides, which he described as "one of the best line ups we have ever had," which included two giant wheels. - a Chance Wheel and the Mulligan Wheel. "We put the smaller of the two in close proximity to the children's area, " he said. "This helped with the visual presence and also it's a family ride. It's not unusual for us to have two giant wheels, and a wheel does well in the Kiddie area because it attracts families.

The 2017 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo was the first time for the Chance Wheel. Other new rides were the KMG Rock-It, and the Drag Strip Mega Slide, which was a not new, but a return to the show after a year hiatus. 

"We do have more high capacity rides, especially with the fun houses and walk-throughs," he said. "We are selling more wrist-bands, which we do every day and we are doing very well with our Gold Access Pass, which is our version of the Speed Pass."

Zaitshik added, "the uniqueness of the stock show is that the rodeo is so powerful a draw. "They've done a great job, over the year and it is reflected in all the awards and accolades. We strive to provide a carnival that is comparable to the high bar and what they are doing with the rodeo."

$1.7 Million
With the continued attendance rise, the popularity of the sport is not in question in this Texas city. "We are ecstatic that our community has embraced the sport of Rodeo, and that they appreciate seeing the best talent in the world with the best animal athletes in North America, competing for over $1.7 million in prize money," said Keith Martin, Executive Director & CEO, San Antonio Stock Show. "We deeply appreciate these fabulous attendance numbers, but what truly sets our event apart is the amazing 6000+ volunteer force-they devote countless hours and many take vacation time to serve. They work on fundraisers throughout the year and prepare all year long for the 18-day Rodeo run-their work ethic and genuine Texas hospitality is epic."

According to a 2015 Trinity University study, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo produces an economic impact for San Antonio of over $250 million annually. In addition, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo added a PRCA Freestyle Bullfight event after Xtreme Bulls. Another new addition was the Ag Mechanics Show, which held their first Sales Competition and Marketplace that tested the craftsmanship and salesmanship skills of students across the state - the top project sold for $10,000. Additional new events included College Rodeo and Collegiate Ranch Rodeo that showcased athletes from college rodeo teams. 

As one of the world's largest junior livestock shows, the 2017 show surpassed the previous number of livestock entries in the Junior Breeding Swine, Junior Wether Dam and Junior Wether Doe shows. The Grand Champion Junior Market Steer sold for $106,000 with $72,000 auctioned for the Reserve Junior Market Steer. The total auction contributions in 2017 exceeded 2016 and the Youth Rodeo, the most successful horse event, also saw an influx with over 1,000 entries.

"We are grateful to our corporate sponsors as well as the San Antonio and the surrounding communities who support our cause," said Martin. "This support allows us to give back in a meaningful way to help provide educational assistance for the youth of Texas. The total contribution amount will be announced at our Annual Meeting in May."

The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has received the PRCA Large Indoor Rodeo of the Year award for 12 consecutive years. Established in 1949, it has grown to be one of the largest and most prestigious single events in the city with over 2 million visitors entering the grounds in 2017. Stock show organizers have committed more than $171.4 million to the youth of Texas through scholarships, grants, endowments, auctions, a calf scramble and show premiums.

For the 2017 event, organizers created new attractions that educate attendees about the Texas agricultural and live stock industries. According to Sides, one of the main mission is to "bring people here to learn about agriculture, and the emphasis also on education, so we have something for the entire family."

One of the new exhibits was the Horse Discovery, a "learning experience about everything horses and it was very well received," said Sides.

Another new attraction was the Innovation Station, which Sides describe as "as an interactive learning experience which allowed people to engage in the STEM (Science. Technology, Engineering, Mechanics) world. There were many different demonstrations, like a Fossil Dig exhibit, also a mineral identification exhibit, and a Lego exhibit, with a pedal tractor. "We are an all encompassing event, and provide something new every year, and what people won't see anywhere else," said Sides.

Not My First Rodeo
While the Texas economy is weaker than a year ago, said Sides, "San Antonio is not a boom or bust economy, and we also have top shelf medical facilities and industries other than oil and energy. We have very strong tourism and they come out for the stock show. Even in a softer economy, We have grown our community ticket sales and revenue." 

Sides would not release any advertising budget figures, but she said that there had been some reductions from the previous year's marketing expenditure. "We've been investing more time and money into social media so in that sense we necessarily didn't cut back but invested more time with social media and our Rodeo App. We hired a company to assist us with the social media." 

The expansion of social media - shifting funds and outsourcing the effort - was spear headed by a makeover of how the event presented itself on these platforms. "more focused on utilizing more videos," said Sides. "We've seen that sharp, well made videos work the best. We started using stories of the rodeo, and highlights of rodeo performances, those scored the largest feedback."

Facebook remains the most important platform, but the fastest rising is the millennial favorite, "We saw an increase in the number of our followers of 48 percent on Instagram. "We used it more this year, and we are reaching more of a younger audience through Instagram, it's a different generation than Facebook." 

The marketing theme was Not My First Rodeo, which was not only catchy but had a psychological catch. "It appealed to the tradition of rodeo, encouraged people to come back," she said. "If is your first rodeo, it says that it won't be your last. We were attracting new visitors with the theme. We get people from out of state, and out of the country, to the rodeo. We used an outside agency, and we all just came up the theme together even though it was their idea."

She added, "We're in Texas, and there's a lot of Cowboy Culture. San Antonio is a big city, but even the newcomers and younger millennials buy into the cowboy culture, especially during the rode. It's a good pun that invites people in." 


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