NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Great changes have been made to the main arena make the overall fan experience better at the Nacogdoches County Exposition and Civic Center.
It will come in handy when the complex hosts the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo & Steer Show, set for 7:45 p.m. Thursday, March 24-Saturday, March 26. The highlight is a vendor area under the bleachers inside the arena that features a tin roof, wood fence backing and a cobbled, concrete flooring.
“We have created a new venue for our vendors in order to place them in the center of the action at the rodeo,” said Anita Scott, the executive director for the expo and civic center. “We previously had the vendors inside the civic center away from the crowds. Now the attendees can browse and shop, and they will not miss a second of the rodeo.”
That’s just a small portion of the experience fans can expect during the annual rodeo and steer show. As a key east Texas stop in rodeo, the event also will showcase top cowboys in the game, thanks in large part to the animal athletes and top-level production from Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo.
“I think having the Pete Carr with us helps draw the bigger-named cowboys, and we are blessed to have him at the Nacogdoches Pro Rodeo & Steer Show,” Scott said. “He’s got a great reputation, and the guys want to come and want to win this rodeo. If it says Pete Carr on it, they know it’s going to be good and it’s going to be the caliber they want and get them the scores they need in order to win.”
That makes the Nacogdoches rodeo an important stop for the sport’s brightest stars. It’s part of the family-friendly entertainment that fans have come to expect. In addition to the world-class competition, the rodeo will also feature the comedy of veteran rodeo clown Rudy Burns.
Having an established veteran entertainer like Burns is another feather in the cap of the organizers that produce the local rodeo. Scott and her staff are assisted in the preparatory work by the Nacogdoches Jaycees, and all were recognized last year by being nominated for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s Small Rodeo of the Year.
“For us to get that recognition was truly a miracle and an honor,” she said. “For our town, for our rodeo, to get that kind of recognition is priceless. When you look at the list of all the PRCA rodeos, it’s a huge list. The fact that we were among the best in the PRCA last year is amazing to me.”
The rodeo committee was joined by other honorees that work the annual rodeo, including Sandy Gwatney, who was nominated as secretary of the year; Clay Heger, a bullfighter of the year finalist; Jeremy Willis, a nominee for pickup man of the year; Andy Stewart, the longtime announcer of the event who has been a finalist in his category for several years; and the Carr firm, which has four nominations over the last few years.
“We’re blessed to have the best in the business here,” Scott said. “Pete is just a great guy. He and his entire crew are very involved and dedicated to our success.”
It pays off for the fans, who get an enhanced experience because of the many modifications.
“The announcer’s stand has been moved to ground level to allow Andy the best perspective during the event,” she said. “Our staff is always finding new ways to enhance the experience for rodeo fans.”
That includes renovating the former announcer’s stand above the bucking chutes and turning it into a private party venue.
“It was booked for all three nights of the rodeo within a week of announcing its availability,” said Scott, who noted that the opening night of the rodeo will be sponsored by Southern Power; in lieu of an admission charge, Southern Power requests a $2 donation to the Cushing ISD Angel Tree.
The rodeo and steer show also will include the return of the Ultimate Tailgate Party, sponsored by Townsquare Media and Kicks 105. Winners of the ticket-giveaway will watch the performances from the tailgate of a RAM pickup truck bed mounted above the bucking chutes.
“During the rodeo each night, we have four seats right above the bucking chutes,” Scott said. “People love it.”
It adds to the flavor of the overall rodeo experience. Those changes might just be a key reason why the Nacogdoches rodeo was in line for rodeo of the year.