It’s time for the 80th edition of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show, as the iconic event continues to showcase its connections to area communities.
“Ask anyone who has grown up in Mercedes and the Rio Grande Valley, and they will name the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo as one of the best-known and attended events of each year,’’ said Beatrice de Leon Edwards, a local historian and Mercedes native.
The 11-day event kicks off today, March 7. Throughout its run, the show features live music and concerts, as well as carnivals, horse shows and rodeos. Perhaps, most importantly, is the platform it provides area youth. Here, they prepare and compete in competitions featuring livestock, pigs, goats and sheep, practicing techniques of the agricultural field.
“In the last 10 years, we have gone from 3,000 to 10,000 entries,’’ said Dr. Lucas G. Hinojosa, an Edinburg-based veterinarian who also serves on the board of the Livestock Show. “Our youth have an opportunity to show from the ages of 9 years to their senior year of high school as they learn what it takes to compete at the top level.’’
The students come from Future Farmers of America and 4-H organizations of area high schools. The students are also eligible for college scholarships, which last year totaled $1.8 million, Hinojosa said.
The yearly show is also of great importance to the community of Mercedes. The city has hosted every Livestock Show since its inception.
“Its (Livestock Show) success is not only attributed to its Mid-Valley location, but earned credit should go to the hard work of RGVLS organizers, and the many loyal partnerships gained over the years to make it a safe family environment,’’ said Sergio Zavala, the Mercedes city manager.