12 things to do at the 2018 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

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The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo returns to NRG Park for the 2018 season Feb. 27-March 18 with no shortage of live entertainment, competitions and exhibits.

The HLSR has been a Texas tradition since 1932 and brings in approximately $4.7 million in annual regional aggregate gross sales, while creating 7,265 full-time jobs and attracting roughly 16,316 people each year.

The nonprofit organization benefits the youth and aims to support education and facilitate better agriculture practices through exhibitions and presentations.

To view this year’s live music lineup, which was announced Jan. 4, click here.

For more information about the HLSR 2018, call 832-667-1000 or click here.

1. Auctions and sales

The HLSR junior market auctions reward 4-H and FFA students each year for their hard work, while volunteers on the four auction committees ensure that all exhibitors who make the auction receives above-market prices for their junior market animals.

To view the auction schedule, click here.

To view the 2018 cattle sales schedule, click here.

2. Agventure

Nearly every species of livestock can be found inside the education area, located in Hall A of NRG Center. The area includes a birthing center, Breed Row Barn, fisheries including a Touch Tank, honeybees, horticulture, a milking parlor, petting zoo and pony rides. Agventure also features a poultry exhibit, rabbit exhibit, a Tour of Texas exhibit and the “We’re Small Y’all Barn,” for miniature animals. The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

For more information about Agventure, click here.

3. Calf Scramble

Each night, 30 Texas 4-H and FFA members chase 15 calves in hopes of catching a calf. Each student who catches a calf is awarded a $1,750 certificate to purchase a registered beef heifer or market street to show at the HLSR the following year. Since 1942, approximately $12.5 million has been awarded in certificates to more than 21,000 students.

For more information about the calf scramble, click here.

4. Carnival

Anchored by the La Grande XL, a 130-foot ferris wheel with 36 air-conditioned cabins, the rodeo’s outdoor carnival is full of games and rides for all ages. Carnival admission is included with the purchase of a Grounds Pass or a HLSR ticket, however a FastPass to avoid long lines is available for an additional $25. Tickets are valid for both rides and games and can be purchased at the carnival for 50 cents each, with most rides requiring four to 20 tickets. The 2018 carnival ride list has not been announced as of press time.

For more information about the carnival, click here.

5. Champion Wine Garden

Located at NRG Park’s Carruth Plaza, the wine garden features live music and more than 70 wine labels to try by the glass or bottle, from the Rodeo’s International Wine Competition. Wine seminars will also be held at a cost of $40-$70 per person, and reservations are available on weekdays from 4-9 p.m. and on weekends from 2-9 p.m. Attendees must be 21 years or older to participate.

For more information about the Champion Wine Garden, click here.

6. The Hideout

This honky tonk venue at the rodeo offers live entertainment from up-and-coming musicians as well as dancing. The Hideout is located in a white tent on the west side of NRG Arena and admission is free with NRG Park admission or a Rodeo Houston ticket. Attendees must be 21 years or older and The Hideout is open nightly 6 p.m.-midnight. Weekday performances begin at 10:15 p.m., while weekend performances begin at 8:30 p.m.

To view The Hideout’s 2018 lineup, click here.

7. Horse show

The horse show runs the duration of the 2018 rodeo season and features an NCHA- and AQHA-sanctioned cutting horse competition, a donkey and mule show featuring “Ear of the Year” awards, cowboy-mounted shooting contests, a paint horse show, a quarter horse show, Ranch Rodeo, ranch sorting and a youth horse show.

To view the 2018 horse show schedule, click here.

8. Judging and contests

The HLSR hosts several contests including an Agricultural Mechanics Project Show, an Agricultural Science Fair, an AG Robotics Contest, a Commercial Steer Feeding and Management Contest, a poster contest, a public speaking contest and a tractor technician competition. The public speaking contest and Agricultural Science Fair are open to Houston students, while participants in all other contests must be Texas 4-H and FFA members.

Judging contests are also held for 4-H and FFA members in the following categories: dairy, floriculture, horse, livestock, nursery landscape, meat, poultry, range and pasture plant identification, wildlife habitat evaluation and wool. Livestock, meat and wool judging contest are also hosted on the intercollegiate level.

For more information about judging contests, click here.

9. The Junction

Previously called “Kids Country,” this family-friendly area features classic carnival rides and games, an antique double carousel, camel and pony rides, pig races, pedal tractor pulls, a petting zoo, mutton bustin’ and a fun on the farm exhibit. The Stars Over Texas Stage features a kid-friendly live music lineup, animal acts and sing-alongs, and is home to the Rodeo Rockstar competition. The area is open on weekdays from 11 a.m.-midnight and on weekends from 10 a.m.–midnight.

To view the Stars over Texas Stage lineup, click here.

10. Livestock show

Since 1932, this event has encouraged and promoted the breeding, raising and marketing of the livestock industry in the Texas Gulf Coast region, and has become the world’s largest, most prestigious livestock exhibition. The show includes junior competitions in breeding beef heifers, breeding gilts, breeding sheep, dairy cattle, market barrows, market broilers, market goats, market lambs, market steers and market turkeys.

The Open Show includes competitions in beef cattle, breeding rabbits, dairy cattle, dairy and boer goats, llamas and alpacas, meat pen rabbits, rabbits and cavies, sheep and goats, sheep dog trials and specialty cattle.

To view the full livestock show scheduled, click here.

11. The Lone Star Marketplace

This new outdoor shopping venue showcases local and mostly Texas-based businesses offering a variety of products including art, leather goods, food and drink items. Businesses featured in the marketplace change on a daily basis.

For more information about The Lone Star Marketplace, click here.

12. Ranching & Wildlife Expo
Feb. 27-March 3

Located on the east end second floor of NRG Center, this five-day expo includes programs that promote the conservation and co-existence of ranching and wildlife habitats through wildlife exhibits, educational seminars and an auction featuring hunting, fishing and outdoor trips, on March 2 at 2 p.m. The expo will also include a Young Guns Sporting Clay competition and a F-H and FFA poster contest.

For more information about the Ranching & Wildlife Expo, click here.

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Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a full-time reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. She covers business, transportation, health care and other local news, specializing in Shenandoah City Council and Montgomery County nonprofit organizations.
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