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An Eight-Second Ride to a Diamond Anniversary

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This is the entrance to the RGV Livestock Show and Agricultural Exposition event. Cowboys and bulls made of wrought iron welcomes the multitudes. The Mercedes Livestock Show has kept alive the culture of the cowboy life and a tradition loved by everyone. Show schedule March 7-16, 2014.
This is the entrance to the RGV Livestock Show and Agricultural Exposition event. Cowboys and bulls made of wrought iron welcomes the multitudes. The Mercedes Livestock Show has kept alive the culture of the cowboy life and a tradition loved by everyone. Show schedule March 7-16, 2014.

The History of the Rio Grande Livestock show

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By Alicia Aguilar

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition

In one-way or another, I have been involved with Chambers of Commerce since the 80’s when I graduated from college. The one thing that strikes me more than anything else is how from the dawn of chambers, it is always the movers and shakers that are the impetus of the large-scale historical businesses and events.

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This is certainly the case with the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show now in its 75th year.  Started by the Mercedes Chamber in 1939, the RGV Livestock Show and Agricultural Exposition event was created to give opportunities for FFA and 4-H members of Hidalgo, Willacy, Cameron, and Starr Counties to exhibit their projects.

The Chamber budgeted $1,000 for expenses then.  The first show took place in March 1940 on Illinois Street just north of the railroad tracks on the grounds of the Mercedes Concrete Pipe Company.  Later that year, the Chamber bought the property for $4,000.  What a fantastic investment – seed money of five thousand dollars has turned into one of the greatest events as well as event center in the Rio Grande Valley – started by a Chamber of Commerce.

By 1947, the event grew from a hometown affair to one of Valleywide significance.  They incorporated as a non-profit educational corporation and purchased almost 45 acres of land at the north end of Texas Ave.  They moved some surplus buildings from the old Fort Brown in Brownsville and created show barns and offices.  That was then, now the show grounds have over 110 acres just north of the Expressway 83.

The Mercedes Chamber has always been tied to the Livestock Show in different capacities.  For many years, the secretary to the Chamber Manager also worked part-time for the Show.

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From its small beginnings it has grown into one of the top livestock shows in Texas with participants receiving over one million dollars in the form of scholarships compared to just over $3,000 in 1940.

With over 200,000 thousand in attendance yearly, the Livestock Show means big business for Mercedes.  There are exciting ways to engage, embrace and energize these folks about the community.  This is precisely why the Chamber started this activity 75 years ago and to this day stays involved with it.

The value of the event cannot be over estimated.  It is part of our heart and soul and engrained in the fabric of Mercedes.  While it is an important part of the Valley, it is Mercedes history.

The Chamber of Commerce awarded the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show, Inc. with the Chamber Business of the Year Award.  They have a strong history of giving back to the community year after year.  With only a small staff with huge hearts, they lead an army of volunteers organizing one of the largest events in the Valley, not to mention one of the top ten stock shows in the state.

Kudos to Livestock Show Directors past and present: our hats are off to you Sam Magee and all of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Team.  We’ll see you at this year’s 75th Anniversary Livestock Show, from March 7-16, 2014.  TBB

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