County judge asks SA Stock Show & Rodeo to postpone, but organizers say show will go on

‘Protocols will be difficult to enforce with large crowds,’ Wolff says in letter to Rodeo board chairwoman

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wants the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wants the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff wants the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, though it looks unlikely to happen.

In a letter to the rodeo board’s chairwoman, Nancy Loeffler, on Monday, Wolff cited the current pandemic conditions in Bexar County and warned that safety protocols would be difficult to enforce. Wolff later confirmed his concerns and request for a delay were centered on the rodeo competitions and concert events that would take place in the Freeman Coliseum and not on the stock show events that will take place in nearby barns on the same grounds.

“In light of our current COVID situation, this past Saturday I shared with you my serious concerns the rodeo and entertainment events to be held in the coliseum. I suggested that it would be best to postpone the rodeo for now,” Wolff wrote to Loeffler.

Wolff also pointed out in his letter that Austin and Fort Worth canceled their rodeos and Houston postponed its rodeo because of the pandemic.

Wolff also brought up what he called “extraordinary efforts” by the city of San Antonio to enforce safety protocols at the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, saying that some people were removed from the stands for not wearing a mask.

“In the event that SALE (San Antonio Livestock Exposition) moves forward, then SALE must be prepared to do so as well,” Wolff said in the letter.

The Freeman Coliseum itself will have a capacity of about 3,800 at any one time during the event, and organizers expect “at least” 10,000 youth exhibitors over the course of the stock show. Each exhibitor is also allowed two extra wristbands to bring their parents or guardians.

The county judge did acknowledge that the current lease SALE has with Bexar County gives it the right to hold the rodeo as long as Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency orders are followed. Wolff, though, said that enforcing safety protocols “will be difficult to enforce with large crowds.”

Despite Wolff’s concerns, Stock Show & Rodeo officials said the show must go on and is prepared to keep participants and attendees safe.

“The safety of our rodeo athletes, patrons and volunteers is of utmost importance to our sporting event that raises funds to help educate the youth of Texas,” said Communications & Public Relations Manager Lauren Sides. “The precautionary measures we are implementing during the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo not only adheres to, but also exceeds current local and state health guidelines.”

The Stock Show & Rodeo is scheduled for Feb. 11 to 28, with the official rodeo kick-off on Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. The event will be held this year at the Freeman Coliseum instead of the AT&T Center due to the event being “more of a rodeo-focused event and less entertainment-focused,” Cody Davenport, executive director and CEO of the San Antonio Rodeo, said in late December.

You can read Wolff’s letter to Loeffler below:


About the Authors:

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.