City Cast

Did You Know Elvis Performed At The Houston Rodeo?

Brooke Lewis
Posted on September 19
Evil Presley sings into a mic wearing an all white suit at Houston Astrodome.

Elvis Presley performs at the Houston Astrodome in 1970. (Bettman/Getty Images)

There’s something magical about Houston rodeo season. For a few weeks, Houstonians wear their best country western attire, watch concerts from a diverse range of artists, devour delicious barbecue, and venture to the Rodeo carnival. So, how did the Houston rodeo begin?

The Start Of The Rodeo

A group of men looking to preserve the cattle industry met for lunch at the old Texas State hotel in downtown Houston. Based on their meeting, the The Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition was created in 1931. The next year, the event was held at the Democratic Convention Hall. In 1938, some of our favorite events were added, including the rodeo, horse show, and downtown parade. Gene Autry, known as America’s singing cowboy, was the first performer at the rodeo in 1942. He performed at the rodeo seven more times.

Many Firsts For The Rodeo

More than 3,000 people take part in trail rides across southeast Texas leading up to the rodeo. The tradition started in 1952, when trail riders traversed from Brenham, Texas to Houston. Educational scholarships are also a key part of festivities. In 1957, the show gave its first $2,000 scholarship to Houstonian Ben Dickerson. The rodeo changed its name to Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in 1961 and also moved its events to the Astrodome five years later. 1970 was a big year for the rodeo. Elvis Presley performed several shows for over 200,000 Houstonians. While he was in Houston, he stayed at the AstroWorld Hotel for $2,500 per night.

From the 90s to Now

The rodeo continued to grow in popularity. By the 1990s, the Rodeo had launched its website and reached 1 million paid attendance visitors. It also had some special guests, including President George H.W. Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Today, the rodeo remains a popular attraction for Houstonians. More than 2.4 million people attended the rodeo earlier this year. Next year, the rodeo kicks off on Feb. 27 and runs until March 17.

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