The Houston Rodeo was started because America needed a special kind of cow.
In the 1920s, Houston-area ranchers developed and bred into existence the American brahman, which could withstand the murky Texas swamps and heat. To show off their new cattle, in 1932 the breeders launched the Houston Fat Stock Show, attracting 2000 visitors. By 1937 the show added a parade, carnival and rodeo.
The rodeo continued expanding at a steady pace until 1974, when the organizers hosted both the first World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest and musical guest Elvis Presley. Attendance doubled that year to 44,000.