SAN ANGELO, TX — An urgent press conference was called for 2 p.m. Wednesday by the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association at the Fiesta Building on the rodeo grounds. Speculation is, in light of the decision by the Houston Stock Show and Rodeo to postpone its event from March until May 2021, and the cancelation of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, San Angelo will likely alter the event planned for Feb. 1-15, 2021. Another rodeo, the San Antonio rodeo, is reported to still be planned for Feb. 11-28, 2021 as of today.
At the San Angelo rodeo office this afternoon, everyone was mum. The SASS&R Association Board of Directors meets Tuesday (tonight) to decide the 2021 rodeo’s fate. Board President, banker Mike Boyd, said he cannot announce anything until the board votes on the direction.
Rodeos are being canceled or postponed due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Trauma Service Area K where San Angelo is the hub, spiked to over 100 patients each day until subsiding slightly to 90 as reported Dec. 8, the day the rodeo board makes its decision.
Daily COVID-19 infections have also spiked since early November, setting records over 200 reported per day. Since Dec. 1, infections have settled just below 100 per day.
The San Angelo rodeo is not an event where social distancing can easily be maintained. Rodeo officials were looking at having a coliseum with a capacity of 4950 only seating 50 percent, or around 2500 fans, across 12 performances. Social life at the rodeo revolves around drinking at the beer barn and inside the wine tent, all involving around 500 people each night in recent years. With San Angelo hospitalizations flirting with breaking Gov. Abbott’s 15 percent COVID-19 patients barrier where bars may be closed, the COVID-19 environment right now is not great for participating in many of the social aspects of the rodeo.
Tied to the rodeo is the annual livestock show. Houston decided to hold their junior livestock show and horse show competitions as originally scheduled in March while delaying the rodeo performances until May. Stock shows have a hard timestamp because of the calendar year when animals were born and raised by livestock show contestants. Animals don’t show well past their due date.
What San Angelo rodeo officials decide to do may be tied to recommendations from city and county officials, including Local Health Authority Dr. James Vretis who briefed rodeo officials this week, according to sources. Vretis said during a city press conference last month that he did not expect the mitigating impact of a vaccine, that is expected to arrive here in weeks, would happen until mid-year, or in May or June.
The decision about when the rodeo will take place, whether the stock show will commence as scheduled or be delayed as well, or if the entire 2021 rodeo will be canceled will be announced at the press conference Wednesday and is pending the SASS&R board decision Tuesday night.