HISD Lassoes Huge Donation From Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
August 16, 2011

(news release)

August 16, 2011 – The HISD Foundation has received a $500,000 gift from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) that will help build a district-wide literacy program designed to help all HISD students read on grade level by the third grade.

 “This is a great way to build future Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship winners — ensuring that younger students get on the right path to reading, which leads to future academic success,” said Skip Wagner, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo president and CEO. “It’s really exciting to be involved in cutting edge research that has the potential to guide these young students to a college education some day.”

HISD is launching a long-term, district-wide literacy program across all grades that will include foundational skills, enrichment and acceleration through standardized strategies, resources and tools.  HLSR’s donation will further bolster the district’s current investment in this literacy program.

“The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has been a long-standing, important partner to the district.  I believe that this partnership will only strengthen and accelerate our ability to impact student success in preparing them for college and career,” said Dr. Terry Grier, HISD superintendent.

Roughly 70,000 HISD students currently read below their grade level. Addressing the problem has been particularly challenging because reading instructional approaches vary from one HISD campus to the next, and Houston students frequently transfer from one school to another.

While HISD students recently posted significant gains in other subjects tested on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, such as math and science, reading scores have remained somewhat flat. Since 2007, the percentage of HISD students passing the science and math exams are up 13 and 20 precentage points, respectively. In reading, however, the passing rate is up just 4 percentage points.

This literacy initiative will establish a district-wide assessment program across all grade levels to gauge each student’s strengths and weaknesses and provide a framework based on data-driven decision-making.

“We will implement these changes while at the same time encouraging schools that are getting great results to keep doing what they’re doing,” Dr. Grier said. “To borrow a phrase our rodeo friends are fond of saying: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ ”

Lori Vetters, HISD Foundation Grants Committee Chair, said: “The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo understands that strong reading skills are critical to the educational outcomes of our Houston children. The Rodeo is providing an important and strategic gift to support a much needed district-wide program.” 

HISD’s literacy initiative will be led by the new Director of Literacy Dr. Carol Bedard.  Previously an associate professor at the University of Houston – downtown, Bedard has more than 20 years of teaching experience and has previously worked with many of HISD’s schools.

“We believe reading and writing to be the spine for all content areas.  So as we work to strengthen this foundation, we will in essence be strengthening their skills in all content areas,” Dr. Bedard said. 

 About the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo:

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ is a Section 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to benefiting youth, supporting education, and facilitating better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed more than $265 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants, and other educational and youth programs.


About the HISD Foundation:

The HISD Foundation partners with the district to raise private support, manage funds and provide donor accountability. Funds raised by the HISD Foundation and district leaders provide resources to advance the core initiatives of the district’s Strategic Direction. The Foundation’s fundraising efforts focus on institutional priorities set by the superintendent of schools and board of education. A separate 501 (C) (3) nonprofit, the Foundation is governed by a volunteer board of business, community and philanthropic leaders. The Foundation’s programming is aligned with the district’s five core initiatives: Effective Teacher in Every Classroom; Effective Principal in Every Classroom; Rigorous Instructional Standards & Supports; Data-Driven Accountability; Culture of Trust through Action. For more information about the HISD Foundation please visit www.houstonisdfoundation.org.

Rodeo Uncorked Features Great Food and Wine
February 21, 2011

Who says the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo only features funnel cake, turkey legs and cold beer?

On Sunday night, the 2011 Rodeo Uncorked!  Roundup and Best Bites Competition proved that you can be a real cowboy or girl and still enjoy some fine wine and good food.

This is the eighth year for the popular gathering and it’s become one of  largest and most successful annual food and wine events, according to organizers.

The event was sponsored by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition Committee.

A couple of thousand people walked around Reliant Center eating dessert and hearty samples from local chefs, restaurants and caterers. 

Faces in the crowd included: City council member Brenda Stardig, “Accountant to the Stars” Bob Martin and his wife Carol, and Edd Hendee and his wife Nina, who are owners of the Taste of Texas Restaurant, Andre Humphrey from Houston Community College and many, many more.

In addition to an evening of  food, wine and music the saddle winners of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition were announced, including the coveted title of Grand Champion Best of Show.






Rodeo Food Gets A Bad Rap
February 17, 2011

It’s food that’s fun and fattening at the same time.  I’m talking about the high calorie snacks you’ll find at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Fried Snickers. Fried Twinkies. Turkey Legs. Funnel Cakes (my favorite)
I don’t think anyone eats/tastes a lot of this food. Maybe just once during a trip to the rodeo, however, the  Harris County Hospital District is sending out a warning to cowboys and cowgirls – “Don’t Let Rodeo Chow Wreck Your Waistline” 
(here’s the full news release)
HOUSTON (Feb. 16, 2011) – The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is famous for tempting foods that could make any Texan’s mouth water. From sausage on a stick and funnel cakes, to fried Twinkies and giant turkey legs, those high-calorie, high-fat treats can end up on your waistline and give a new and not-so-welcome meaning to “tight-fitting jeans.”

 “Traditionally, rodeo is known for its high-calorie, high-fat foods,” says Ann Smith Barnes, MD, medical director, Weight Management Services and Disease Prevention, Harris County Hospital District. “But you can enjoy rodeo treats without ruining your diet.”

 It’s not easy. According to webmd.com, these tasty morsels popular with the rodeo crowd are brimming with calories and fat, exceeding the recommended daily saturated fat intake for anyone.

1 deep fried Snickers bar (5 oz.) = 444 calories, 29 grams of fat

1 deep fried Twinkie (2 oz.) = 420 calories, 34 grams of fat

1 giant turkey leg = 1,136 calories, 54 grams of fat

Funnel cake = 760 calories, 44 grams of fat

Foot-long hot dog and bun: 470 calories, 26 grams of fat

The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat intake to less than 25 – 35 percent of your total calories each day. This means a sedentary female who is 31 – 50 years old needs about 2,000 calories each day, and should consume fewer than 16 grams of saturated fat daily, and between 50 – 70 grams of total fat each day.

All is not lost, according to Barnes.

“Indulging can wreak havoc on your waistline, but choosing healthier foods at the rodeo is an option,” she explains. She offers the following tips:

Plan ahead when you know you’re going to the rodeo. Eat small snacks with plenty of lean protein and fiber to keep you satisfied until your next meal. A turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, cereal, fruit and yogurt are good options.

Don’t deprive yourself of the special food you love. The key is to choose one or two favorite treats that will satisfy your craving without ruining your health.

Share the food you buy with a friend. This way, you still eat the foods you enjoy, but consume half the fat and calories.

Eat corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas to save calories. Choose chicken tacos over beef, and opt for salsa over guacamole.

Try barbequed chicken instead of brisket or sausage.

See the sights at the carnival, explore the livestock show or walk around Reliant Stadium to burn some calories after enjoying your treat.

“A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything on a stick,” Barnes says. “But if sausage on a stick is your indulgence, pass on the cotton candy and buttered popcorn. It’s fine to eat the treats you love, but the key is to do so in moderation.”


Let’s Get Ready To Rodeo
January 30, 2011

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo doesn’t officially start  until Tuesday, March 1st , however, this is party season for many of  the rodeo committees.

On Saturday night, hundreds of men and women strapped on their finest western wear to attend the 18th Annual Black Heritage Western Gala at Reliant Center.

It was a fun-filled night featuring dinner, drinks and dancing to Zydeco music.  

The evening was also a nonstop fashion show of  cowboys and cowgirls wearing  their best jeans, jackets, dresses, leather skirts and boots.

Several community leaders were also honored during the evening.   The honorees were Cynthia clay Briggs/Executive Director of Communities in Schools; George Durham/retired deputy from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office;Eveyln Henry/Houston Independent School District;Karen Levingston-Franklin/Chairman and CEO, World Youth Foundation; Rissie Owens/Chairman, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles; Kimberly Ratcliff/Vice President, 100 Ranchers-Texas and Wesley Ratcliff/Former Chairman, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas.

The Black Heritage Committee hosts several activities during the year.  The gala is its major fundraiser to support youth scholarships. 

Last year, the Black Heritage Committee awarded $285,000 in scholarships to nineteen outstanding students.

Members say the purpose of  the committee is tot promote the Houston Livestock Show and rodeo in the African-American community.


Mark your calendars. Friday, March 4, is Black Heritage Day at the Rodeo. 

 Janet Jackson is scheduled to perform.

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo BBQ Contest
February 26, 2010

It’s time to dust off your boots and pull your cowboy hat out of the closet. 

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo kicked off  Thursday night with the annual World Championship BBQ  Cookoff. According to the HLS&R it’s officially three days of cooking, competition, eating and dancing.

All events are held at Reliant Park.

You can find out more by visiting: http://www99.rodeohouston.com/events/bbq/index.aspx

This year more than 300 teams are competing for the honor of  best ribs, sausage, chicken (or any other kind of meat you can cook on the grill)

2 On the Beat  enjoyed a few hours at the BBQ and Carnival Thursday night.  Thanks to the Clear Channel Outlaws  and the 2 Steppers BBQ teams for inviting me inside.

The End of The Rodeo
March 23, 2009

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ended on a high note Sunday night. 

I didn’t make it to the concert, but I talked to plenty of  people who say that Houston’s own Z.Z. Top rocked Reliant Stadium.


While thousands were jamming to the music,  others enjoyed the final  hours of the carnival rides, games and of course, the  food. 


The carnival was packed with kids and adults, and everyone I met had big smiles on their faces. 

My only question:  Were they giving away stuffed animals as prizes at the carnival?   I saw so many people carrying stuffed dogs and bears, I wondered if  the carnival workers were trying to get rid of everything to avoid packing them up and hauling them to the next destination. 


Despite the downturn in the economy, officials with the HLS&R say they were expecting the final attendance numbers to be up slightly over last year.

Congratulations to all of the rodeo volunteers and staff that made 2009 a year to remember!


This year the Houston Livestock Show and  Rodeo had so much to offer and so many memorable moments.  From the Jonas Brothers to the fried snickers bars.  It was all great fun (and fattening)

My only regret?  I was looking forward to seeing Darius Rucker, the former front man for Hootie and the Blowfish

He now has a country album and two of   the songs have climbed to #1 on the country charts.

I had tickets to his concert, but I was sent to Galveston that day for a news assignment.

Oh well, at least I  have one of his songs on my IPod.

Rodeo Protest is Still On
March 17, 2009

Exactly one week after Go Tejano Day set an all time paid attendance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a coalition of community leaders will stage a protest outside of the rodeo grounds.

This is the news release sent to 2 on the Beat. 



Protest of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo



Elected officials, community leaders and business leaders will protest the practices of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo on Sunday, March 22, 2009, at 1:00 pm. The protest will begin at Kirby Dr. and Old Spanish Trail and will proceed south on Kirby Drive to the 610 Loop.


The purpose of this protest is to bring forth two issues of concern to the community at-large.


1. Transparency


The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is a non-profit organization using a government facility. It brings in approximately $85 million per year; $12 million, of which, are given to college bound students via scholarships. The community is asking the HLSR board to be transparent in regards to the remaining $73 million being spent. Community concerns have led to the filing of a bill in the state legislature that would require the HLSR to open their records. In response, the HLSR has hired a lobbyist to prevent this bill from being passed to avoid full disclosure of their records.


2. Inclusivity


The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has millions of dollars in contract opportunities every year. Yet, HLSR does not publicize these opportunities to the business community at-large. Only a select few are invited to participate in the contracting process. The community is asking the HLSR to change their current contracting process to give the business community at-large an opportunity to do business with the HLSR.




It’s (almost) Time to Rodeo
February 23, 2009

I live near Reliant Park and every year around this time it’s exciting to witness the transformation of the grounds into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.


Over the weekend I stopped to take a few pictures of the carnival rides being assembled, and the workers setting up their tents for the barbecue cook-off.

The cook-off runs from Thursday night – Saturday . 

 Sunday is when all the big trailers will roll in, carrying livestock, breeders and thousands of school students who raise  animals to show. 

Don’t forget the  big rodeo parade is scheduled to take place in downtown Houston on Saturday.

Make sure to wave to the familiar faces you see on KPRC Local 2 who will be riding in a chuck-wagon along the parade route.