Big Sponsorship Changes Reshape the Look of the San Angelo Rodeo Fairgrounds
SAN ANGELO, TX — This year, the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo will have a new look thanks to the help of three new sponsors.
The sale barn at the north end of the line of metal buildings where the annual Premium Sale is held is changing its name. It’s now named after San Angelo screen-printer Gandy Ink.
Phil Gandy, the owner and co-founder of the San Angelo business, said sponsoring the sale barn is a natural fit. Phil said Gandy Ink, founded in 1988, generates 85 percent of its revenue selling t-shirts, branded garments, and branded specialty items to schools throughout Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and even as far away South Dakota.
Above: One of the two Gandy Ink signs was placed by the morning of Jan. 31, 2019. (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
Most of those school districts that are Gandys’ customers are in rural areas and have very active ag programs with kids who show their animals in regional stock shows like San Angelo’s.
The annual premium sale, held the last day of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo, broke $800,000 in contributions last year. Phil Gandy said he is hoping this year will be the first year the sale breaks $1 million. There are no guarantees, he said. And if it takes another year to reach that milestone, it will be accomplished in the Gandy Ink Sale Barn.
Above: The new signs on the Gandy Ink Sale Barn were being placed Jan. 31, 2019. (LIVE! Photo/Sam Fowler)
“I plan on sponsoring the building for many, many years to come,” Phil said.
Above: The Gandy Ink signs will be in the front and sides of the sale barn. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
The first building on the south end has a new bank in its name. Get used to calling the First Financial Bank Pavilion. This is the building where the vendor exhibit hall is, where shoppers can shop for the latest in western wear and décor. Year round, the building is used for events, like indoor concerts. Its capacity is 1,200 people.
For Chris Evatt, Chairman, President and CEO of First Financial Bank San Angelo, sponsoring that building was a no-brainer. His bank has 72 branches around Texas with two branches in San Angelo. First Financial Bank has the highest market share as measured by deposits in the San Angelo Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with $640.4 million. The FDIC reported First Financial cared for 24.61 percent of all banking deposits in the San Angelo region as of June 30, 2018.
Evatt said he and his team had been watching for opportunities to become more involved financially with the rodeo. Even to this day, Evatt’s predecessor Mike Boyd, has been instrumental in growing the stock show part. Now First Financial Bank can put their name on it.
“First Financial Bank Pavilion does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?” Evatt pondered.
Tom Thompson, marketing director for the San Angelo rodeo, said opportunities to be a major sponsor of the rodeo don’t come around often, and when they do, his first consideration is finding a sponsor who “fits.” By fitting, Thompson said he prefers a company with a strong local profile who can stay with their sponsorship long term.
“And we try to fit in sponsors with whom we can offer some level of exclusivity,” he said.
The San Angelo City Council had to confirm the building sponsorships late last year, sort of like how the U.S. Senate confirms judicial nominations. Thompson, who sits in the Council, abstained from the discussion and vote. The vote approving the naming of both buildings was unanimous.
The most popular feature of the annual rodeo is the carnival. This year, the carnival is sponsored by Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Hank Stout, whose father Randol is a respected local attorney and has been for years, co-founded his law firm in Houston with partner Graham Sutliff. Hank said the partners always had their eyes on San Angelo and west Texas for expansion, and his firm’s San Angelo offices are in the same building as his father's firm.
Above: The Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm Carnival was getting set-up on Thursday evening, Jan. 30, 2019. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
For the lawyers, sponsoring the carnival is a way the firm can support Hank’s hometown and expansion into it, and to let San Angeloans know while Sutliff & Stout has statewide presence, San Angelo is where their heart is.
The carnival opens Feb. 1, 2019 at 5 p.m. and continues throughout the duration of the rodeo until Feb. 17. Each year, approximately 150,000 people pass through the gates 170,000 times enjoy its “wild” rides, the iconic Ferris wheel, tasty food like the funnel cakes, games like the ring toss, and the roller coaster.
The carnival is the most visible landmark at the rodeo grounds. Thursday afternoon, workers were putting the final touches on erecting the rides for Friday’s grand opening.
Admission to the carnival is free with a rodeo ticket or with an unlimited ride armband that is purchased separately. This year, the unlimited pass is called the Sutliff & Stout Super Pass.
Thompson said sponsorship opportunities like these present themselves from time-to-time and he is always talking to potential suitors. Sometimes, there is a waiting list, Thompson quipped. To get on the list, contact the rodeo office at (325) 653-7785, or visit the rodeo’s website at sanangelorodeo.com.
Recommended for You
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.