Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo: Putting Stock in a Healthy Future

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By Krystal Krenek
Photos By Leonel Munoz and courtesy of the Joyce Smith family.
Spring is in the air, and in the Rio Grande Valley, that means that Stock Show time is upon us.  Each March, students from across the Valley spend their Spring Break in cowboy boots instead of flip flops as they exhibit their show animals and projects they have worked hard to raise.  The Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo has a rich, local history that dates back to a sea of black and white photos on display throughout the show’s time capsule of a museum.  You take that past and couple it with how the Show is making waves for the future, and you have an organization centered on down home family values and commitment that extends beyond what you may expect.
This will be the third year that the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show holds a fundraiser for cancer research.  What started out as “Tough Enough to Wear Pink,” a fundraiser dedicated to breast cancer awareness, has turned into the first year of “Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer,” a fundraiser for all types of cancer research.  An area medical institution sponsors Friday night’s rodeo performance.  In return, it receives $1 from every rodeo ticket sold for that night, along with proceeds from “Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer” t-shirt and koozie sales.  In years past, the rodeo sponsor was honored with a check that amounted to a figure over and above their initial sponsorship, enabling them to put the funds toward the work they do in cancer research.  This year, the “Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer” rodeo sponsor is Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Cancer Center of Edinburg.
Cancer has been on the hearts and minds of those closest to the Stock Show family.  Sam Magee, who has been the show’s General Manager for five years, is fighting his own battle with cancer this year, as well as two other members of the Stock Show family.  Magee’s wife, Lisa, had nothing but positive things to say about how their journey has been impacted by the Livestock Show.
“Sam has the most supportive and Christian board of directors who go above and beyond.  They are like brothers.  Nowhere else would that happen.  And it’s heartwarming to see the support from all those participating in “Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer.”  I’m humble to live in a community that supports something like this,” Lisa affirms.
Lisa Magee says the Livestock Show has always had a special place in her heart, full of good memories of showing, earning ribbons, and spending each Spring Break in Mercedes.  She raised animals from the age of 8 through her high school years.  And now the Magee’s two teenagers, Chance and Gentry, are active in the Livestock Show experience as well.
The Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show has much to offer its visitors each year.  The Cover Girl Contest will be held Saturday, March 3rd upstairs in the Frances R. Cooper Event Center.  Twenty-eight young ladies, representing cities from Brownsville to Rio Grande City, will take to the stage to vie for the crown and earn the coveted title of Cover Girl.  The opening night of the show, Friday, March 9th, kicks off with a concert featuring chart-climbing country music artist Chris Young.  On Saturday the 10th, the Livestock Show Parade, complete with a variety of floats, will travel down the main street of Mercedes beginning at 3:00 pm.  Rodeo performances will be held each night from Wednesday the 14th through Saturday the 17th.  After Valley youth have spent a week walking in and out of show arenas exhibiting their animals, the big winners will walk through the auction ring on Saturday the 17th at the Sale of Champions.  The public is invited to attend and to bid on the top show animals to help raise funds for the winning exhibitors.  Additionally, those wishing to add funds to a student’s sale without purchasing an animal may contribute additional support by what is known as “add-ons.”
The team behind the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show is shining a spotlight on cancer and the lives it so deeply affects through the “Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer” fundraiser.  Within an organization that has celebrated family and hard work, you can see how those values have been passed down and will be continued in the hope of future healthy generations.  By raising awareness and support for cancer research, we could change how we view cancer in the future . . . for the better.
To support the efforts of “Cowboys Kickin’ Cancer,” you may purchase t-shirts and koozies in the Livestock Show office.  Rodeo tickets are $8 each and sold at the arena for each of the four night performances.  Concert tickets are on sale at The Bullrider, The Boot Jack, Cavender’s, Boots ‘n Jeans, Leonel’s Western Wear, and Taubert Farm & Ranch.  Get your pre-sale concert tickets, which include the gate admission and concert ticket for the same price as the concert ticket alone at the door.  General Admission tickets, allowing guests to stand in front of the stage, are being sold for $45 each.  Seating tickets, allowing guests to sit in the bleachers, are being sold for $30 each.  For a full schedule of events for the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo, visit their website at www.RGVLS.com.