It is a big week for Fort Worth as the three-week run of the 116th annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo begins Friday.
The stock show has huge benefits for the city as much as it does the competitors at the show and the competition is already underway.
The Chisholm Challenge Competition started Monday and runs through Wednesday at Justin Arena. This is the 9th year the challenge has helped start the stock show by giving Equestrians with Disabilities a chance to show off their skills.
“It’s a privilege to prepare these riders, who prepare all year and some of them year after year to compete and this really is a competition,” said Cheril Becker, General Manager of the challenge.
One of the competitors on Monday afternoon was Clayton Travis of Mansfield. This is Travis’ fifth year competing in the American Quarter Horse Association events on the first day of the challenge. Travis, who as Asperger's syndrome, has won his class two times and says the equine therapy has been a huge help to him.
“Over the years of interacting with the volunteers, I’d say I popped out of my shell, but I more like I jumped out,” he said.
That’s exactly what the program hopes to accomplish, give tremendous benefits to the riders in and out of the ring and a special experience for these three days leading up to the stock show.
“It’s cool you get to kick off the Fort Worth Stock Show,” Travis said.
And the stock show will be paying dividends to the city once again. Officials expect 900,000 people will visit the barns, arenas and exhibit halls over the 23 days of the show. That is expected to bring in around $100 million to the local economy.
“There are cities that would line up to have such a venue and we’re fortunate to have it for 115, 116 years now,” said city councilman Dennis Shingleton, whose district includes the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
With the city continuing to face budget deficits and the economy still on the rebound, Shingleton says it’s good to know that the stock show will be always be there come January.
“And I know businessmen who plan their budgets around things like that, so we can’t overstate the value that this brings to our community,” he said.
It is an economic, cultural and educational event that has a significant impact on budgets as much as it does the smiling faces of competitors at events like the Chisholm Challenge.
“Any kid with a disability can do this,” Travis said.