The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is canceled for its 2021 season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, organizers said Friday morning.
"The chance of becoming an event that could spread coronavirus to not just Fort Worth or Dallas, but beyond," spokesman Matt Brockman said. "When you look at it from their safety and the safety of their families, it gets really important."
The decision to cancel came with a unanimous vote from the executive committee, Brockman said in an email. The stock show and rodeo had been scheduled for Jan. 15 through Feb. 6, 2021.
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"This is a heartbreaking decision for our leadership and was not made lightly," said Stock Show President and General Manager, Brad Barnes. "We wanted to find a way to safely hold a Show for our 1.2 million guests, exhibitors and competitors. Unfortunately, the challenges we face to create practical and enforceable protocols and procedures to comply with COVID-19 guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are extremely daunting. The uncertainty of the virus potential spread across Texas and the nation during the upcoming flu season was another major factor weighing on our decision."
The annual event draws a daily crowd that can exceed 140,000 from across Texas and the United States -- which means it would rank as a "very high risk" for the spread of COVID-19, Brockman said.
"I was pretty disappointed when I found out they were gonna start canceling shows," Aledo High School FFA member, Kollen Furr said. The senior was going to show his white Dorper breeding sheep. Instead, he's learning a lesson from the pandemic. "Always be prepared for the worst."
"The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance," said Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja. "We support the Stock Show's executive committee in making this difficult decision.
The only other time a Stock Show was canceled was 1943, near the height of World War II, Brockman said.
"Today we're in another war with an enemy that's invisible and quite deadly," said Barnes. "We feel a responsibility to be proactive, in order that COVID-19 is brought under control sooner rather than later. For fans of Fort Worth's oldest and largest public event, our common goal is to help bring the pandemic to an end so future Stock Shows won't be in jeopardy."