Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: June 2, 2021

The Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, also known as the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo and the oldest continuous running livestock show, began in 1896 when a fat stock show was held under shade trees on Marine Creek in North Fort Worth. That first show had no buildings, no enclosures, and no admission charge, but in 1897 tents sheltered the animals, and twenty-five cents was charged for seeing the livestock. Among early stockmen who promoted the show to attract northern packers and to promote improvement of the livestock industry were H. C. Holloway, F. J. Hovenkamp, Stewart Harrison, John I. Burgess, L. B. Brown, B. C. Rohme, and Tom White. Eventually Fort Worth citizens raised a fund of $50,000, induced the Stock Yard Company to build the Coliseum, and guaranteed the show to run for ten years. Stewart Harrison, the first president, served from 1904 to 1908. Samuel Burk Burnett was president from 1908 to 1922; during his term the official designation was made the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show, the scope of the exhibits was enlarged, premiums were offered, and exhibitors from several states brought cattle, sheep, horses, and hogs to the annual exhibitions. In 1917 an indoor rodeo was held at the Coliseum in connection with the show. Marion Sansom was president of the exposition from 1923 to 1925, when Van Zandt Jarvis became president, serving until his death in 1940. In 1944 the exposition moved to the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum during the presidency of John Burns. W. R. Watt became president in 1946. In 1948 the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show attracted about a quarter of a million persons. In 1978 the name was changed to the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, which is held at the end of January and the beginning of February every year. The rodeo is the longest running in the United States with twenty-eight performances in seventeen days. It includes barrel racing, bucking broncos and bulls, calf scrambles, and rodeo clowns. In addition to the rodeo and livestock show there is a carnival, a Children's Barnyard or petting zoo, and commercial exhibits from all over the country are set up, advertising anything from farm and ranch equipment to services and clothing. In the 1990s visitors to the stock show came from thirty-nine of the fifty states and from sixty-six foreign countries; five countries had livestock entries. In 1993 800,000 visitors visited the stock show, which generated an estimated $100 million for the Fort Worth area. See also RODEOS.

Buckley B. Paddock, History of Texas: Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest Edition (4 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1922).

  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Business
  • Politics and Government
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Sports (Rodeo)
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 2, 2021

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