Records fall as Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo enjoys another banner year

Will Rogers Memorial Center (Photo courtesy city of Fort Worth)

Despite a challenge from the weather in its final week, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo set a new all-time attendance record. An estimated 1,271, 250 visitors attended this year’s show, besting the record of 1.26 million in 2020.

To put it in perspective, that’s the population of Fort Worth plus about 25%.

It might very well have been more. An ice storm hit North Texas during the show’s final week, shutting down travel all across the region. The good news: the storm cleared out in time for the show’s final weekend.

The busiest day of the entire 23-day event was Saturday, Jan. 28, when 163,000 visitors poured through the gates of the event held at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Memorial Center and Dickies Arena.

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“Weather worked in our favor for the first two weeks before experiencing some icy precipitation on Jan. 30 and 31, which slowed attendance. The skies cleared on Feb. 3 and crowds were large the last two days of the show,” FWSSR Communications Director Matt Brockman said.

And all those people represent dollars for the local economy. According to a Feb. 2 article on the website “Dallas Innovates,” a report from event data analyst PredictHQ said the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo ranks third nationally in local impact to its community, bringing in an estimated $142.1 million (official city/FWSSR figures have yet to be released). FWSSR officials said a survey in 2022 indicated this year’s event would bring in around $115,617,190.

New York Fashion Week topped the PredictHQ list with $331.1 million and Mardi Gras ranked second with economic impact of $155.4 million for New Orleans.

Of course, a major draw for the FWSSR is the ProRodeo Tournament at Dickies Arena. Just over 222,000 flowed through the doors for the action, breaking another record that had stood for a single year.

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The rodeo saw Tanner Butner of Daniel, Wyoming, score a 94 in saddle bronc riding, besting last year’s score of 91.5 by Stetson Wright of Milford, Utah, who went to tie for the event’s overall championship with Canadian cowboy Dawson Hay.

The champions included a local winner, Rocker Steiner of Weatherford, in the bareback competition. He took home $27,080, which tied with steer wrestler Will Lummus of Byhalia, Mississippi, for top money winnings in the rodeo.

Other 2023 champions are:

  • Breakaway Roping: Cheyanne Guillory, Kingston, Oklahoma.
  • Tie-Down Roping: Weston Hughes, Cameron.
  • Team Roping: Andrew Ward, Edmond, Oklahoma, and Buddy Hawkins II, Stephenville.
  • Barrel Racing: Jackie Ganter, Abilene.
  • Bull Riding: Josh Frost, Randlett, Utah.

“Every year, we tell ourselves we can be better, and the fact is, it’s our job to make it that way,” Stock Show President and General Manager Brad Barnes said. “The enthusiasm, energy and excitement that people shared for this year’s Show was reflected in the numbers, and for that we say a huge ‘thank you’ to all our guests, exhibitors, competitors, volunteers and donors that continue to make the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo legendary.”

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Entertainment, as always, was big at the FWSSR this year, with highlights including Larry The Cable Guy, John Michael Montgomery, Deana Carter and more.

“Acts in the Bud Light Roadhouse and The Corkyard drew large crowds,” Brockman said. “The Auditorium Entertainment Series sold just over 70 percent of capacity, which has room for growth. Our motto around here is, ‘We can always be better.’”

Even the record-setting Grand Champion steer got in on the entertainment theme, boasting the same name as legendary rapper Snoop Dogg. The European Crossbred steer was sold by Sadie Wampler of Canyon to Higginbotham Insurance and Financial Services for $440,000. In all, $7.5 million – another record – was raised from the Junior Sale of Champions. It broke the mark of $6.1 million set last year.

Other popular highlights of FWSSR 2023 included:

  • The bicentennial celebration of the legendary Texas Rangers with their presence on the grounds and exhibits in the Amon Carter Exhibits Hall and Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
  • The second year of the Yellowstone cast autograph signing was a big hit.
  • The new “Pony Up” 50/50 Raffle held during rodeo performances had a great inaugural year, raising $105,804 for Stock Show scholarships and educational initiatives.

“This year’s Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo was nothing short of amazing on several levels,” Brockman said. “Setting records for attendance and auction receipts for the Junior Sale of Champions in the same year doesn’t happen often, so we’re very pleased with the outcome. To be enthusiastically embraced by the people of Fort Worth and beyond is an honor and we’re humbled at the support of so many people.”

And just wait till next year.

“We’re working hard to make the 2024 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo more legendary than ever,” Brockman said.