SAN ANGELO, Texas — Competitors, volunteers, and staff all believe that the hype is well deserved. The numbers prove the event is a contender in the nationwide competition for best stock show and rodeo.  

"Every year we keep seeing our numbers increase. Part of it is contestants want to come here and compete in San Angelo to get a head start to try to go to the finals,” Justin Jonas, San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo executive director, said.  

So how many contestants will you see in the arena this year? 1,150.

And it's no wonder they want to be seen in San Angelo. It's not a secret that San Angelo rodeo fans, and the event itself, go unmatched. Jonas confirmed it. San Angelo is, and has been, one of the top five rodeos in the nation for years.

"They grade us on purse size, is how they do that. Not just by how many people come to the rodeo. That's putting San Angelo right in the third and fourth ranked in the United States,” Jonas said.

This year, that purse totals just over $600,000. One of the reasons for the more than $100,000 jump is the Cinch Chute Out. The PRCA announced several new sanctioned events in the past few months. This only helps add money and clout to some already famous stops on the contestant’s calendars.

"You're gonna see these cowboys make more money that they deserve that's gonna count towards the finals. If they get hurt they don't have salaries, they have to stay healthy, they have to stay good, so the more and more events that are large money that these guys can win, the better for the PRCA,” Jonas said.  

But that's just the rodeo. The stock show is boasting some pretty big numbers this year as well.

"We have over 14,000 entries. They bring in parents, grandparents. They stay 2 or 3 days, they shop in our shops, they eat in our restaurants, they stay in our hotels. A lot of people in San Angelo are banking the stock show and rodeo to keep on growing because their profit or loss may be in the month of February,” Jonas said.

Despite the pressure of being one of the largest economic boosters for the city, Jonas says the staff and volunteers are always working to outdo the previous year's performance.

Another piece of advice from Jonas - get there early. Your rodeo ticket gets you into the fairgrounds as well so he suggests beating the traffic and planning to arrive about an hour before the performance.