Do you remember where you were on March 11, 2020, when the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was canceled? I do. I was having lunch at a Galveston restaurant with a friend when my husband texted me. It was before mask mandates and shutdowns and it made the pandemic real.
My husband and I had planned to go that weekend to the livestock show, where his great-niece Abigail Mitchell was showing a heifer. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was the final event for that heifer because of its age.
Abigail had worked hard and was setting up in the barn when the news broke.
The news had a chilling effect on this native Texan. Things had to be bad to shut down an event launched in 1931 and that generated $391 million in economic activity in 2019. Thousands of jobs were upended by the cancellation. It felt apocalyptic.
After the initial shock about the Houston event, I immediately thought about the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo.
Each April, Coast Monthly celebrates the work of fair and rodeo organizers and participants, including the young students who labor all year to show their livestock. Last year, when we went to press, the event was still on but was canceled after we printed the issue.
This year, the event will go on in a modified way because of the pandemic, as you’ll read in this issue. And the popular and highly competitive cook-off is on again under pandemic protocols. That’s something to celebrate.
This year also will be tough with the loss of Paul Tibaldo, who died in August. Tibaldo served as the organization’s president for almost 20 years and is sorely missed by those who knew and worked with him.
We salute all the hard work organizers put into resuming any version of the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo.
Let’s hope next year the event is able to make a full comeback.
In the meantime, we hope everyone who is able participates in the virtual event to support those hard-working students.