From a one-day show with a few head of cattle tethered under shade trees, the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show has grown into a 17-day extravaganza with international appeal for exhibitor and visitor alike.
Over the years, the growth of the show has mirrored the progress of the livestock industry. The trend toward purebred livestock was in its infancy in 1896 when the Stock Show was first held. Fort Worth was in its infancy, too. Its small, dusty streets and limited 19th century entertainment were unlikely forerunners for today's sprawling center of art, culture and industry.
The great livestock exposition has been held each year since 1896 (except 1943) and is the oldest continuously held annual livestock show in the United States.
New inpetus for the growth of the Stock Show came in 1908 when a new headquarters and coliseum was erected at the North Side Coliseum (now called Cowtown Coliseum). Billy Bob's Texas is located just north of the coliseum.
The show operated under five names. It began without a name, but within a year was called The Texas Fat Stock Show. Later it was The Fort Worth Fat Stock Show, The National Feeders and Breeders Show. In 1918 the name Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show was chosen. The show was renamed again in 1987 as The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. The Stock Show remained on the northside of Fort Worth until 1942. In 1944 the show moved to the Will Rogers Memorial Center. At first, the center included the Will Rogers Coliseum, tower and auditorium and a one horse exhibit barn. It was all part of a facility which was constructed in 1936 and 1937 for the Texas Centennial observance.
The indoor Rodeo was born in Fort Worth in March of 1918, largely because the North Side Coliseum was the only arena with a capacity to accommodate a crowd and the production of the event.
Rodeo, as an indoor entertainment event, holds particular significance and pride for Fort Worth which can lay claim to having the "World's Original Indoor Rodeo." Over the years, the Fort Worth rodeo continues its lead in innovations in the rodeo sport.
Entertainment is the key to the success of the Fort Worth rodeo. Today's 28 performance schedule during the 17 days of the annual Stock Show is choreographed with outstanding specialty acts interspersed with fast moving rodeo action that is second to none in the business.
Visitors to the show have come from more than 60 nations and in recent years the show has averaged more than 800,000 persons through its gates. The influx of people has a considerable positive economic impact on the Fort Worth area. Fort Worth is looking forward to 1996, the Stock Show's centennial year. Let's Rodeo!.*
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