The idea of the San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo was first thought up by J. Culberson “Cub” Deal, who was serving as the elected manager of the San Angelo Board of City Development (Chamber of Commerce). Deal thought San Angelo would benefit more from a spring stock show than a fair and called a meeting with Claude A. Broome, John P. Lee, J. Willis Johnson, Jr., D.T. Jones, and County Agent W.I. Marschall. The group was dedicated to the promotion of better breeding, and the fattening and finishing of livestock, on West Texas ranches and farms. The group decided the major feature would be involvement from the 4-H Club Boys and Vocational Agriculture Students in the area. The first event was held on the Polo Field from February 29 through March 2, 1932. In the first show, 15 Texas counties were represented and auctions totaled approximately $10,000.
In 1934, the event moved to the fairgrounds, due to improvements of facilities and an experimental “baby” rodeo was staged for entertainment. During this year’s event, 21 counties were represented, 1200 head of livestock were exhibited and auctions netted $12,500. Horse Racing was also added to the list of activities during the annual event. The rodeo changed to a professional rodeo in 1955 and a men’s breeding sheep division was added.
In 1943, the Fat Stock Show and Rodeo was cancelled due to a fire that destroyed the majority of the facilities, as well as a request from the government for all programs, including rodeos be cut. Due to the request, the 1943 year still counted as a year it was held. All things were back up and running in 1944, but only for a short time as the rodeo was cancelled in 1945, the stock show was still held. By 1946, things were back in full swing and are continued to this day.
The Stock Show and Rodeo Board considered the possibility of adding a fall roping event in May of 1954. Chili Cole was appointed to explore the opportunities of a steer roping, since few were held in the area. The first one was held in 1954. Eventually the event would grow into what is now known as the “Roping Fiesta” and included events such as a Match calf Roping, Calf Roping, Team Roping, and Steer Wrestling.
Following the 1956 show, the Stock Show and Rodeo Board informed the city they were finished with the event, if the city could not provide better fairgrounds, as the facilities were in a desperate state after a tornado and general deterioration. In 1958, the show was held again with no rodeo as the Coliseum was under construction.
The San Angelo Coliseum was completed in 1959, and special entertainment was brought in for the annual events. Over the years some of the talent included Rin Tin Tin (1959), Johnny Ringo (1960), Doc ‘n Festus from Gunsmoke (1965), Barbara Mandrell and Johnny Rodriguez (1977), and Moe Bandy and Reba McEntire (1980).
The women’s Department was started in 1964 by Mrs. Melba Cox and Cynthia Wittenburg including divisions such as a flower show and needlework. The divisions continued to grow in classes depending on what was popular, including a cooking division, clothing, and hobbies and crafts.
Over the years, numerous improvements and renovations were made to the facilities on the fairgrounds. In January of 1999, citizens of San Angelo passed a one half of one percent sales tax to stimulate economic development. Through this sales tax, the City of San Angelo was able to renovate the Wells Fargo Pavilion, build the 1stCommunity Credit Union Spur Arena in 2002, Housley Communications Cattle Barn, and the Gandy Ink Livestock Barn in 2005. The City also completed the HEB Community Center which houses a large majority of the breeding shows.
The improved facilities have helped in continuing to grow the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo into one of the largest livestock shows in the nation with a rodeo that consistently ranks in the top 2 in total entries. The Association also hosts a variety of events year round as these facilities are available to rent year round. This provides an excellent opportunity to continue to attract visitors from other areas into San Angelo and help drive the local economy.