LA PORTE, Texas – On Wednesday, 18-year-old Kirby Russell, drove six hours from Decatur to the Houston rodeo, only to be turned away.
“We literally just got into the parking lot, everybody was silent and we just left,” said Russell.
On Wednesday, amid the coronavirus outbreak, Houston rodeo officials pulled the plug on the event for the first time in its eight-decade history.
The rodeo’s decision left many in the dark, including FFA students competing in the livestock show.
“I was a little sour about it,” said Russell.
This year was going to be a first for some and last for others.
The Houston rodeo show was the last time Russell was going to compete before he graduates high school. For 10 year-old Bella Stokley, it was going to be her first major show.
“We've practiced all this time and put all of this hard work and effort into it for it go the drain,” said Stokley.
La Porte native Clint Hicks and his wife felt the show must go on.
A mini rodeo livestock show was organized by the Hicks and the city of La Porte pitched in to help.
“It was all put together in the last two days,” said Hicks.
On Friday, FFA students were given the chance to compete for prizes.
The event drew over 200 competitors who were turned away Wednesday in Houston.
“We are really fortunate that they did end up having these shows instead of all for nothing, a little bit is better than nothing,” said Russell.