Event organizers announced Friday the cancellation of the 2021 Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo — an annual event that brings over one million visitors to Fort Worth.
The stock show’s president and general manager, Brad Barnes, called the decision “heartbreaking,” and said it “was not made lightly.” The stock show and rodeo has only been canceled once before, he said, at the height of WWII.
“Then, as now, the stock show was canceled to overcome an enemy common to all Americans,” Barnes said. “With more than 1.2 million stock show guests, exhibitors, visitors and competitors converging into the various buildings on the Will Rogers complex during our 23-day show, the chances to harbor and spread coronavirus well beyond the North Texas region, especially in the midst of flu season, is too great a risk to take for the public good.”
The festival was originally scheduled for Jan. 15 through Feb. 6.
The stock show and rodeo consulted with public health and infections disease experts before making the decision, according to its website. Those experts say a festival like the stock show would be at “very high risk” of impacting healthcare systems both here in North Texas and elsewhere for people visiting the rodeo.
“The health and safety of our community is of the utmost importance,” Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said in the stock show’s announcement. “We support the stock show’s executive committee in making this difficult decision.”
The cancellation follows other major event cancellations in Fort Worth and beyond. The State Fair of Texas announced its cancellation earlier in the year, but opted for a drive-through event with major lines and long delays.
In early March, just as confirmed cases of the coronavirus began popping up in Texas, organizers of the Houston Rodeo continued with the event, but quickly canceled when cases of community spread were tracked to the fairgrounds. The 2021 Houston Rodeo has not been cancelled.
Barnes said the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo plans to return in 2022.