Throwback Thursday: San Antonio Rodeo keeps focus on education

San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo first kicked off 69 years ago

By Lexi Salazar - News Producer, Dale L. Keller - Photojournalist, Samuel Bayless Jr. - Editor

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is now one of the city's biggest events, but it began 69 years ago as something much smaller.

The first San Antonio Rodeo was held on February 17, 1950, at the newly opened Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum. More than a quarter of a million people showed up.

"It all started back in the day as a showcase, and it's evolved into more of a vehicle for us to raise funds to help educate the youth of Texas," said rodeo Assistant Vice Preisdent Mike Osteen.

In 1984, the rodeo began awarding scholarships to students in Texas. Fifteen four-year scholarships totaling $90,000 were awarded that year.

The rodeo grows each year, thanks to the help of staff members and 6,000 volunteers. Two million people now pass through the front gates annually. 

"Every year, we grow. We get bigger and better. We want to add new stuff and keep it fresh," said Osteen.

Even with the new exhibits and added live entertainment, the focus remains on education. To date, the rodeo's educational committee has awarded more than $198 million to Texas students going into all fields of study.

"Years and years and years ago, I think it was all about agriculture," said Osteen. "But now we're very diversified.  It's all about giving everybody an opportunity to get a scholarship and everybody can go to school."

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is in town until Feb. 24.

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