FORT WORTH, Texas — The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is everything to vendors like Connie Murdock. She makes her living selling food at Jake's Cheese Joint. One of the best sellers is the Grill Cheese Sandwich.
She and her team are excited to be part of the 2022 event at the Will Rogers Center, especially after last year's cancellation due to the spread of COVID-19.
"We have all had our vaccines, and we have our boosters. Staying on the other side of the counter as the folks come up helps. Being in the food business you always wear gloves," said Murdock.
As one more way to help Connie and rodeo guests stay safe, the stock show has social distancing reminder signs. On day one of the rodeo, fans sat apart from each other in their groups while watching the equestrian competitions.
When guests walk around the rodeo grounds, they will also see hand sanitizer stations at each exit and entrance during the event. People can also grab free masks during the rodeo, although wearing a mask during the event is optional.
This year, Stock Show organizers teamed up with health officials to even offer all three COVID-19 vaccines available, along with booster shots.
Stock Show vendor Columba Gonzalez is glad the rodeo is back. She has sold authentic collectibles from her native Mexico for the past three years. When they learned that the event would happen this year, they came up with a game plan while working their vendor booth.
"We are surrounded by everything leather, so we are bringing from color to the stock show," said Columba Gonzalez, "We are being safe and precautious about our surroundings and hope everyone else is doing the same."
Gonzalez is among hundreds of Stock Show vendors not letting COVID keep them away. There are multiple vendor areas set up throughout the Stock Show.
There are vendors selling clothing, custom-fitting cowboy hats, massage chairs, mattresses, photography services, chocolate and fudge, homemade beef jerky and even boot shine services at the Stock Show.
Many of the vendors count on events like the Stock Show not only to support their families but also charities they support. Gonzalez has charities around the world counting on their generosity.
"All of our profits go back to ministry. We help women and children in different parts of the country and around the world."
Although the Stock Show organizers decided to cancel the 2022 Stock Show Parade in downtown Fort Worth due to high winds in the forecast, they hope the rodeo will still draw the hundreds of thousands of people they've seen in past years.