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San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo bucks pandemic, returns with full slate

James Baker

The 73rd San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is really back in the saddle for the first time since the pandemic began two years ago. There is a full slate of attractions and events on the grounds of the AT&T Center from Feb. 10-26.

Around 1.5 million attend in a non-pandemic year. Rodeo officials have said a COVID-19 safety plan is in place for visitors.

The event includes a junior livestock show that generates thousands of scholarships for area and out-of-area students. Organizers said it's the largest of its kind in the nation.

The rodeo attracts some of the best professional cowboys and cowgirls in the nation. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association named it the best indoor rodeo in the nation before the pandemic.

There are also carnival rides, beverage booths, including beer and wine, and food booths, including kettle corn, roasted corn, funnel cake, cotton candy, barbeque, hot dogs, sandwiches, nachos, tacos and more. There also 160 retailers, many of which are indoor this year at the Shops at the Rodeo. The indoor move is due to rodeo weather being sometimes cold or wet or both.

San Antonio-based Whataburger will have a Whatalounge set up to chill out.

The bull riding, pig races and muttin' bustin' with kids in crash helmets riding sheep are fan favorites.

The chairman of the event's ambassador committee Albert Zarazua said for the first time the livestock judging will be streamed live.

"This is going to be great for our exhibitors, gives them a place to take refuge during the show and they can still stay up to date with what's going on in the judging rings," Zarazua said.

He added two new events will be staged inside the AT&T Center's dirt covered floor.

"Noche Del Vaquero (Cowboy Night) will honor the traditions, and artistic skills and pageantry of our culture and also our Ranch Rodeo. Ranch rodeo is a throwback to our old west when neighboring ranches would get together to see whose cowboys were the best riders, the best ropers, and generally the toughest hands on the ranch."

San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo
Map of major areas of the stock show and rodeo

There is also a concert series that includes top country acts like Toby Keith on Feb. 10, Tim McGraw plays two shows on Feb.19, Brad Paisley appears on Feb. 15, Lady A has a Valentine's Day show, Sam Hunt takes the mic on Feb. 16, Tanya Tucker sings on the Feb. 13, rapper Ludacris performs on Feb. 17, Night Ranger takes the stage on Feb. 18, Norteno's King of the Accordian, Ray Ayala, headlines on Feb. 20 and Styx performs on Feb. 25.

Ticket pricing varies. Go to Rodeo Concerts (sarodeo.com) to learn more.

There is also live music around the grounds.

Asked for the stock show and rodeo's COVID-19 plans, chief marketing officer Chris Darby sent the following statement to TPR.

"The safety of the community, patrons, sponsors and volunteers are of utmost importance. The San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has implemented safety measures in the last year to provide a safe environment for youth exhibitors, rodeo athletes and rodeo fans. Our entire event will continue to follow current state health and safety guidelines closely as masks are recommended but not required. We are grateful to host the Rodeo, Festival, Livestock Show and Carnival from February 10-27, 2022 and fulfill our mission of helping educate the youth of Texas."

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District was asked by TPR to provide guidance to rodeo goers and it released the following statement:

“Metro Health recommends that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in crowded, indoor places or when around groups of people outside of their normal circle. And if you are sick — even if you think it’s just allergies — stay home. You don’t want to risk spreading the virus to others if indeed you have COVID. Also, we can’t stress enough that if you haven’t yet been vaccinated, please make an effort to do so. If you are eligible, get a booster dose for extra protection.”

The health agency added:

"The best mask is the one that conforms well to your face. Depending on the mask and shape of your face, you might achieve this with a KN95 mask, a well-fitting surgical mask maybe with elastic fitters or a brace to help close up the sides a cloth mask over a surgical mask, or a tight cloth mask in lower risk settings. The main thing is to not have gaps/leakage around the edges of the mask. A cloth mask should have at least two layers and be heavy enough to block light."

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian