Rodeo gets ready for millions of visitors

HOUSTON - It's almost time for the 2012 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and preparations are well under way.

The carnival is in place, tents for the Bar-Be-Que contest are going up and trail riders are slowly converging on Houston.

The bands and bull riders don't start performing until next week, but what's needed for them is also being set up.

More than 2 million people visited the rodeo last year, and organizers are hoping to see even more this year.

"If we're talking about the entire Livestock Show and Rodeo, 2,262,000 people came out to see us last year," Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer said. "That makes us the largest fair event or festival in North America. Those guys in Dallas with that state fair, we've been neck and neck for the last few years."

The trail rides traditionally kick off the rodeo. Twelve of them are headed into the area and they will meet up in Memorial Park on Friday.

About 300 teams are setting up for the world championship Bar-Be-Que cookoff. The tents have to be up and the brisket grilling by Thursday.

The annual parade will be held in downtown Houston on Saturday.

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