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Houston is 2nd most popular fairs in 2022 behind Dallas

People walk in the center of the Houston Livestock Show and Outdoor Carnival Sunday, March 13, 2022, in Houston. The rodeo recently ranked as the second most attended fair in the state behind the Texas State Fair last year.

Houston Chronicle staff

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The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo may rank first among state fairs in the hearts of Houstonians, but the annual event ranked second in popularity among all fairs nationwide in 2022. A recent study by industry news source Carnival Warehouse found the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo, to have the second highest attendance of all fairs in 2022 with 2.4 million attendees. The rodeo is behind the 2022 Texas State Fair at Dallas’ Fair Park, which drew 2.5 million people.
The Houston Rodeo beat the Minnesota State Fair, which is often considered one of the largest state fairs in the nation, and became the third most popular in 2022 with 1.8 million attendees. Chris Boleman, president and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, credited the high attendance numbers for 2022 after the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after the rodeo was canceled in 2021 and curtailed in 2020 due to health concerns.

“Preliminary data shows that the one-time costs have proven that fans have spent more time on the field enjoying activities and events that they haven’t seen in two years,” Boleman told Carnival Warehouse. “As staff, we are more concerned with running a successful and complete event than with records.”

Still, attendance at the Houston Rodeo in 2016, 2017 and 2018 was slightly higher than at the State Fair of Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News. The Houston Rodeo had its most attended in 2017, with 2.6 million people in attendance, record attendance for one official rodeo. Carnival Warehouse noted that attendance was among the top 50 fairs in 2022, with all 18 fairs on the list recording a decline in attendance. Only two fairs had record years, including the newly combined Wilson County Fair/Tennessee State Fair and the Illinois State Fair.
The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is just a few weeks away, so we’ll have to wait and see if it can top the Dallas Fair in the fall. This year’s rodeo begins at NRG Stadium on February 28th and runs through Sunday, March 19th.