FWSSR History
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FWSSR History

There's not another western lifestyle event with more rich history than what's formally called the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show. Enjoy this fascinating video narrated by Bob Tallman, then scroll through the cool photographs and highlights that tell the story of the world's quintessential stock show and rodeo.

1896 - First Stock Show takes place in March on the banks of Marine Creek in North Fort Worth. Purebred cattle, such as Shorthorns and Herefords were exhibited. Second show held October 12-13 coinciding with the National Livestock Exchange Convention. First Stock Show parade held on October 12.

1898 - Local commercial merchants begin exhibiting products at the Stock Show.

1901 - The Stock Show officially adopts name: Texas Fat Stock Show.

1903 – The formal openings of the Armour and Swift packing plants in North Fort Worth coincide with the Stock Show.

Swift and Co. Packing Plant

1904 - Bill Pickett, demonstrates "bulldogging" at the Stock Show. His, then, "act" would become the modern rodeo event, steer wrestling.

Bill Pickett
Steer Wrestling in Dickies Arena

1905 - A “Roundup” of ranch work was demonstrated and billed as a “Wild West Performance.” Livestock exhibitors were awarded premiums, cash awards and prizes for the first time, underwritten by livestock breed associations.

1907 - First admission charged: 25 cents. A formal organization – the Stock Show Association is created. The Stock Show's first official Horse Show is held. The cornerstone is set for what would become the Northside Coliseum.

1908 – When it opened in February, the Northside Coliseum was billed as “the most opulent and dynamic livestock pavilion in the entire Western Hemisphere.” The iconic structure featured enormous skylights, patriotic flags and bunting, and incandescent lights. Samuel Burk Burnett becomes the Show’s president. The Show opens under new name: National Feeders and Breeders Show.

Northside Coliseum
(TSCRF Archives)
Stock Show Rodeo in Northside Coliseum
Spectators purchasing rodeo tickets

1909 - For the first time the show runs concurrently with Texas Cattle Raisers Association annual meeting, March 15. The parade features almost 40 Comanche and Kiowa braves led by Chief Quanah Parker on March 19. It was the first and last time prize show bulls are featured in the parade.

1911 - Theodore Roosevelt, former president of the United States, is the Stock Show's guest of honor.

Stock Show President Burk Burnett and President Roosevelt

1916 - Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show, held in the Coliseum, features famed performers Zach and Lucille Mulhall.

1917 The Mulhalls return with their version of a Wild West Show; a cowboy “riding contest” was staged.

1918 - The “World’s Original Indoor Rodeo” was added as “strictly a contest” with events including: ladies’ bucking bronco; junior steer riding; mens' steer riding; and bucking bronco. Stock Show adopts Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show as official name.

Stock Show Rodeo - Northside Coliseum
1919 - Baby Beef Clubs, the forerunners of 4-H Clubs, sprang up around the country fostering opportunities for youth to learn about livestock production through the exhibition of cattle. The Stock Show’s evening rodeo performance opened with President Woodrow Wilson pushing a button in the White House that turned on the Coliseum’s electric lights.
Early Day Youth Exhibitors
1920 - Tad Lucas became one of the nation’s most famous cowgirls. Brahman bull riding was introduced to the Stock Show’s rodeo event line up.
(L to R) Amon Carter, Tad Lucas, John Davis

1922 - Marion Samson Sr. becomes the Stock Show’s president. Stock Show features midway rides including the Human Roulette, Baby Sea Plane, Ferris Wheel and Merry-Go-Round.

1923 - Van Zandt Jarvis becomes the Stock Show’s president serving for 17 years until his death in 1940.

1925 - The Stock Show becomes the place where guests make a “fashion statement.” High crowned wide brimmed felt hats, high heeled boots and split riding skirts were the fashions of the day. The first automobile exhibit opens at the Stock Show.

1927 - Side-release bucking chutes introduced in Northside Coliseum. Bareback Bronc riding added to the slate of rodeo events.

1932 - First live radio broadcast of a rodeo on the NBC network through Amon Carter’s Fort Worth affiliate WBAP (We Bring A Program).

1936 – The Cowboy’s Turtle Association is organized to advocate for enhanced prize money and standards for judging rodeo events. The organization establishes an official list of rodeo events for the Stock Show which included: Bareback Bronc Riding; Calf Roping; Saddle Bronc Riding; Bulldogging; and Steer (or Bull) Riding.

1938 - Oliver Grote, from Mason, Texas, exhibits the Grand Champion Steer. The Hereford weighed 825 pounds and sells at auction for $1,039.50.

1940 - John C. Burns becomes the Stock Show’s president.

1943 - The Stock Show was cancelled due to World War II.

1944 - The Stock Show moves to Will Rogers Memorial Center. Livestock were stalled and exhibited in large tents until 1948. Gene Autry becomes the first entertainer to appear at a rodeo. Special late night rodeo performances are held for the benefit of "swing shift" employees that built planes for the war effort at local aircraft assembly plants.

Will Rogers Auditorium, Tower and Coliseum
(S-T Archives)
Will Rogers Coliseum
(S-T Archives)

1946 - The Stock Show celebrates its golden anniversary. W.R. “Billy Bob” Watt becomes president of the Stock Show serving until his death in 1977.

1947 - “Riding into the Sunset,” a life-size sculpture commissioned by Amon Carter, Sr is dedicated in November. Located at the main entrance to the Will Rogers Memorial Center, the noted bronze created by Electra Waggoner Biggs depicts Carter’s close friend, Will Rogers, riding his polo horse, Soapsuds. Carter becomes Stock Show’s first chairman of the board. Patsy Moody, from Fort Stockton, Texas, exhibits the Grand Champion Steer, a 810 pound Hereford that was purchased by C.A. Lupton for $4,455.

1948 - Cattle Barns 1, 2, 3, 4 and the Sheep and Swine Barns open. The building's art deco architectural style compliments the Will Rogers Coliseum and Auditorium. Total cost - approximately $1.5 million.

1949 - Barn 5 opens to stall horses for equestrian competitions during the Stock Show.

1952 - Harry Tompkins wins the Bareback Bronc Riding at the World's Original Indoor Rodeo. It's the first of six FWSSR rodeo titles for the rough stock legend which included three more Bareback titles ('54, '57 and '65) and two in Bull Riding ('51 and 60).

1956 – Barn 6 opens to accommodate growth in Stock Show livestock entries. Amon G. Carter Sr. dies and James M. North Jr. becomes the Stock Show’s chairman of the board.

1957 - The Junior League of Fort Worth begins selling the Rodeo Souvenir Annual, the official program for the World's Original Indoor Rodeo. The first Select Breeders Quarter Horse Sale is held. Bobby Sale of Stanton, Texas exhibits the Grand Champion Steer - a 900 lb. Hereford purchased by Lone Star Brewery for $7,000.
Jr. League "Yell & Sell" Rodeo Programs
Bobby Sale and his Grand Champion Steer
1958 – The Stock Show’s rodeo became the first to receive complete live national television coverage; guest stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were hosts on NBC-TV with George “Gabby” Hayes and the Sons of the Pioneers. Amon G. Carter, Jr. is elected the Stock Show’s chairman of the board. Guy Weeks wins $4,094 in both a rough stock event (Saddle Bronc Riding) and a timed event (Tie-Down Roping); a rare feat in the sport of rodeo.
Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and Gabby Hays relax during preproduction downtime
(S-T Archives)
Amon Carter Jr.
Rodeo Broadcast Preparation
(S-T Archives)

1962 - Earnest "Bud" Bramwell becomes the first African-American to earn a FWSSR rodeo title by winning the steer wrestling.

1963 - Barn 7 opens to accommodate continued growth in livestock exhibits.

1964 – The Round Up Inn Building is built to accommodate commercial exhibits and offices for Stock Show staff. Lile Lewter takes Grand Champion honors with his 980 pound Hereford steer that's purchased by Lone Star Brewery for $7,000.

1965 – Zippy, the monkey and his Scottish Sheepdog, make their first appearance at the Stock Show rodeo. Trained by Tommy Lucia, his crowd-favorite monkey and dog duos included the popular "Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey" and entertained rodeo crowds by herding sheep in the Will Rogers Coliseum during various years for four decades.
Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey
Zippy and his Scottish Sheepdog
Whiplish, his trusty dog and Stock Show favorite, Tommy Lucia
1967 / 1968 - George Hermann from Lampasas, Texas exhibits back-to-back Grand Champion Steers. Until 1971 the Stock Show had both a junior and open division in the Steer Show with the overall winner being named Grand Champion. Hermann's 1967 junior show entry was a 1,015 pound Hereford purchased by Continental National Bank for $6,300. The following year he won the open division with another Hereford that weighed 1,095 and was bought by Dr. Pepper Bottling Company for $6,000.

1972 - Barn 8 opens to accommodate increasing livestock entries as the Stock Show experiences steady growth.

1976 - H. Ross Perot purchases the Grand Champion Steer, a 1,230 pound Hereford Angus cross, shown by Sherry Koenig for $7,600. it was the first of six Grand Champion Steers purchased by the Perot family. Hillwood, run by Perot's son (Ross Perot Jr.), purchases the grand champs in 2003, 2004, 2016, 2018 and 2019.

1977 – Billy Bob Watt dies. His son, W.R. “Bob”Watt, Jr., becomes the Stock Show’s sixth president. Bob Tallman is hired as the announcer for rodeo performances. The PRCA's one-rodeo earnings record set by Edd Workman at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was broken at the FWSSR when Paul Tierney's haul in Steer Wrestling and Tie-Down roping totaled $9,562.

1978 - PRCA's one-rodeo earnings record is broken again at the Stock Show when Tom Ferguson wins $12,873 in Tie-Down Roping and Steer Wrestling.

1979 - Neal Gay is hired as the Stock Show's "Rodeo Producer," beginning a long Stock Show tenure for Gay's family and their Rafter G Rodeo Company.

1980 - The Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate is organized with the purpose of increasing auction returns for 4-H and FFA youth in the Jr. Sale of Champions. Four years later, the organization formed the Jim Bob Norman Scholarship fund in honor of the then Syndicate chairman who passed away during his term in office.

1982 - A Hereford exhibited by Chad Breeding from Miami, Texas is named Grand Champion Steer. The 1,216 pounder is auctioned to Majestic Liquors for $24,000. After decades of domination for the breed, it will be 38 years before another Hereford is crowned Grand Champion at the legendary steer show.

1983 – Amon G. Carter Jr. dies. John Justin is elected the Stock Show’s chairman of the board.

1984 – The Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall is dedicated in honor of the former Stock Show chairman. “Midnight,” a life-size, bronze statue of the famous bucking horse, created by Jack Bryant, is also dedicated at the main entrance to the exhibits hall that replaced the Round Up Inn building in order to accommodate growth of commercial exhibits.

1986 – The Calf Scramble is added as an important junior livestock show component. Sixteen youth compete to catch eight calves turned loose in Will Rogers Coliseum arena during rodeo performances. Those catching a calf are awarded a $500 certificate to be used toward the purchase of a beef or dairy heifer that they care for and exhibit in the Livestock Show the following year. The other eight youth are awarded a pair of Justin Boots. A scholarship program also becomes an important and popular Calf Scramble feature.

1987 - The board of directors adopts Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show as the Stock Show’s official name. Sylvester Mayfield, an African-American rodeo standout, wins the Tie-Down Roping. Thirty-Six years later, his son, Shad Mayfield, competes in the FWSSR PRORODEO Tournament and goes on to win the PRCA World Champion Tie-Down Roping title.

1988 – The Will Rogers Equestrian Center is constructed to accommodate significant growth in the Stock Show’s Horse Show and various equestrian competitions throughout the year at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The impressive facilities include stalling and warm-up facilities in the Burnett and the Richardson-Bass buildings as well as the John Justin Arena for competitions and the West Arena for livestock auctions.

1989 - The popular Chuck Wagon Races are added to the event lineup of the World's Original Indoor Rodeo.

1990 - Todd Fox wins the first of three Steer Wrestling titles at the World's Original Indoor Rodeo. He repeats in 1991 and 1994.

- The International Committee is established with the purpose of welcoming and assisting Stock Show guests from countries around the world, many who come to purchase livestock and agricultural equipment.

1996 - The Stock Show celebrates its Centennial Anniversary. The Charlie & Kit Moncrief Building opens with new cattle stalling ties and the W.R. Watt Arena for livestock and horse shows. Honoring the Stock Show's Chairman, a Jack Bryant statue of Justin and his horse, “Baby Blue,” is dedicated at the southeast entrance to the Will Rogers Memorial Center. A nightly "Western Roundup Show," reminiscent of the Wild West Shows held in the early 1900s is featured in the Watt Arena.

(L to R) Ed Bass, Gov. George Bush and FWSSR Chairman John Justin
1998 - The inaugural Timed Event Challenge is held. The top sixty competitors from the Horse Show's classes for tie-down roping, barrel racing, pole bending and team roping qualify to compete for cash awards sponsored by the Cowboy Publishing Group.

1999 - The Will Rogers Memorial Center’s “front door” gets an impressive addition with the 2,300 square foot Ticket Office and Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau information center.

2001 - John Justin dies. Ed Bass is elected chairman of the Stock Shows’ Board of Directors. Reese Haymes show's the Grand Champion Steer. The 1,296 pound European Cross sells to Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse for $105,000. Haymes brother, Kyle, won the steer show with another European Cross five years earlier.

2002 – The Stock Show expands its schedule to 23 days and a record 951,000 visitors attend. Ranching Heritage Weekend debuts along with the Best of the West Ranch Rodeo which is won by the Moorhouse Ranch from Benjamin, Texas. The American Quarter Horse Association's inaugural Versatility Ranch Horse Show debuts at the Stock Show.

2003 – “Bulls' Night Out," an extreme PRCA bull riding competition, is added to the rodeo schedule. An "Exhibicion Charra Mexicanna" is held featuring the pageantry of folklorico dancing and mariachis combined with the daring riding and roping skills of the Mexican vaquero. The Tie-Down roping title at the World's Original Indoor Rodeo came down to a three-way tie between Cody Ohl, Stran Smith and Johnny Emmons.

2004 - Records were established with more than 24,000 livestock entered and 14 livestock sales that generated $4,322,675 in auction receipts. Troy Lerwill, aka the Wild Child, thrills rodeo attendees with his daredevil motorcycle stunts. The Exhibicion Charra Mexicana is renamed the "Best of Mexico Celebracion" and becomes a popular feature in the Stock Show's schedule.

2005 - The Moos Brothers are introduced as the official Fort Worth Stock Show Ambassadors. Hoss and Elwood spread the word that the Stock Show is the place to enjoy plenty of fun and family entertainment and embrace Fort Worth’s oldest and largest public event.

2006 - Evan Jayne, from Marseille, France wins the Bareback Bronc riding and repeats as champion the following year. Team Roping is added to the event lineup at the World's Original Indoor Rodeo.

2010 – The Cowboys of Color Rodeo debuts at the Stock Show. The rodeo highlights the contributions made my African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Anglos to the rich history and heritage of ranching and the cattle industry. Brad Barnes is elected president of the Stock Show. Bob Watt is named president emeritus. Rikki Bucklew's European Cross steer, a 1,309 pounder wins Grand Champion honors and breaks the $200,000 mark by selling to Larry White for $210,000.

Circle L Five Riding Club
Cowboys of Color Producer Cleo Hearn
Cowboys of Color Rodeo Action

2013 – Cattle Barn 2 undergoes a major renovation under a planned four-phase project to upgrade the iconic livestock facilities. When the project is complete, Cattle Barns 1 - 4 as well as the Sheep and Swine Barns are upgraded with improved lighting, ventilation, pedestrian aisles, cattle ties, stalls and public restrooms.

2015 - Sarah Rose McDonald dominates the Barrel Race at the World's Original Indoor Rodeo by winning all three go-rounds and the average tile.

2019 – Phase 2 of the livestock facilities upgrade project is completed. Tower Promenade is built to serve as a covered pedestrian walkway connecting the main Will Rogers Memorial Center complex with what will become the Stock Show’s new home for rodeo. Cattle Barn 1 and the Small Animal Exhibits Building are renovated, and a new Stockman’s Café and Milking Parlor are also constructed.

2020 – Dickies Arena debuts as the Stock Show’s new home for rodeo. The art deco masterpiece is also designed and built to host a variety of other entertainment events throughout the year. The FWSSR PRORODEO Tournament debuts as the Stock Show’s exciting tournament-style rodeo providing spectators with an easy to follow and exciting format and a $1.2 million purse. The Grand Champion Steer, a Hereford named Cupid Shuffle and exhibited by Ryder Day of Meadow, Texas sells for a record-smashing $300,000.

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