In 2020, COVID-19 forced the early closure of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Last year, select events were held in person. But in 2022, the rodeo was back in full force as it celebrated its 90th anniversary. Successfully staging the largest rodeo in the world relies on the contributions of 35,000 volunteers.

“Welcoming back more than 2.4 million guests to celebrate the 90th anniversary was an incredible feeling,” says Chris Boleman, Ph.D., who is president and CEO of the organization. “Our fans and the community were excited to come out and celebrate this milestone year with us.” Boleman, who has been with the organization in various capacities since 2017, shared some of his personal rodeo highlights with us.

M+E Which two events are your favorites?

I love the Calf Scramble. Seeing those young people catch a calf and then return to the show the next year with their beef cattle project (steer or heifer) completes the full cycle of the learning experience.
I love it. I also love the night of the Grand Champion Junior Market Steer Selection inside NRG Stadium. I grew up showing steers and took a few into the stadium as an exhibitor myself, so that moment always brings back great family memories for me.

M+E What are your favorite rodeo memories?

There are several. When the Grand Champion Market Steer sold for $1 million, I was very emotional. It was such a monumental moment in our history.

Getting to the George Strait concert [on the final night of the 2022 rodeo]. It meant we made it through an emotional journey. It meant that everyone stuck together to get to the finish line—volunteers, staff, donors, sponsors, partners, the community—everyone.

Personally, I am not a dancer, but opening night with Cody Johnson kicking off the rodeo’s 90th anniversary and playing to a sold-out crowd [was memorable]. I was on the dirt dancing with my wife, Randi, and I was so relieved that we finally made it. She has been my rock through some very difficult times, and it was great to share that moment with her.

M+E Out of curiosity, how many pairs of cowboy boots and cowboy hats do you own?

Nine pairs of boots. Far fewer than my wife! Four hats. I am looking to purchase another one really soon.

The Hill Country escape boasts event space and scenic lodging near the Pedernales River.

Just an hour from both Austin and San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country, Walden Retreats offers guests a luxury camping experience at Longbranch Ranch. Booking stays for spring 2023, the 96-acre property is situated in the Hill Country along the cliffs of the Pedernales River.

 

Looking for inspiration for how to celebrate a landmark anniversary? Take some tips from the producers of San Antonio’s Día de los Muertos at Hemisfair (also known as Muertos Fest). Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022, the two-day festival partnered with ABC affiliate KSAT 12 for a two-hour special that aired to a national broadcast audience on Oct. 30. According to National Geographic magazine, the special introduced one of the best fall festivals in the United States to more than 100 cities across the country.

 

Have a wickedly good time at one of these haunted sites.

Although not officially declared a state until 1845, Texas was populated long before the 19th century. Its storied past has given rise to local legends and ghost sightings—so many, in fact, that Texas is consistently ranked among the most haunted states in the country. And why wouldn’t it be? After all, our oversized state has plenty of room for ghosts to roam and “stretch their legs.” Luckily for event planners, there are also a lot of places around Texas to scare up a good time for groups.