Though it lasted longer than most on 2020’s back, the Fort Worth rodeo just got bucked.
The executive committee of the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo (FWSSR) voted unanimously yesterday to cancel the 2021 Show, citing the “extremely daunting” task of running the event in accordance with CDC guidelines.
According to the public statement FWSSR released, consultations with “infectious disease professionals and public health professionals” raised concerns that the event would cause hospital strain and high infection in the weeks following.
FWSSR President and General Manager Brad Barnes released a video alongside the public statement, masked, hatted, and alone in the venue’s echoing arena.
“Some of Fort Worth’s most popular and enduring events have been canceled or postponed… Adding to the misfortune, the southwestern exposition livestock show’s executive committee has deemed it necessary to cancel the 2021 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo,” Barnes said. “This was a heartbreaking decision for our leadership, and was not made lightly.”
Barnes went on to note that the event has only been canceled once before in the otherwise unbroken 124-year history of the Fort Worth rodeo: in 1943, “near the height of the World War II.”
“Then, as now, the stock show is canceled in an effort to overcome an enemy common to all Americans. Today’s enemy is invisible and very deadly, having taken the lives of more than 210,000 Americans at this time,” Barnes said, almost tearful.
“With more than 1.2 million visitors and competitors converging… the chances to harbor and spread coronavirus well beyond the North Texas region, especially in the midst of flu season, is too great a risk to take for the public good. Short-term gain is no substitute for the long-term wellbeing of our many loyal exhibitors, guests, their families, and the community at large.”
At the city and county level, local government authorities gave their blessing to the cancellation.
“The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance,” Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said. “We support the Stock Show’s executive committee in making this difficult decision.”
“I am confident that the Board of Directors’ decision to cancel this year’s event was made in the best interest of all fans and participants,” Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price said in a statement.
Tarrant County ranks only beneath Dallas and Harris County in reported cases with 49,145 according to state data. A little under 3,000 of those cases are reported active. Dallas County has reported over 84,000 cases, and Harris County, number one in the state, has reported just shy of 150,000.
According to Tarrant County’s own data, local cases peaked in late July, approaching 6,000 confirmations. Since then, as across the state, cases have leveled out but are still higher than May numbers. In total, Tarrant County has seen 685 deaths and 45,715 recoveries from the coronavirus.
This year’s rodeo and show, scheduled for January 15th through February 6th, would have been the first to break in the newly completed Dickies Arena. The marquee National Finals Rodeo, which moved from Las Vegas to Arlington this year specifically because of coronavirus concerns, is still slated to fill Globe Life Field this December.
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