Working the Rodeo


Jovanny Lopez

Aaron Salvador, a Sophomore at Heights, interacting with customers while whoring at the Houston Rodeo.

After being canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic, the Houston Rodeo returned as a popular annual event going on for ninety years. The Rodeo offers fantastic sources of entertainment for visitors to enjoy for three weeks, including carnival rides, livestock and horse shows, live music performances, and areas to shop and dine. On top of that, another interesting take is that students were allowed to hold an occupation there.

High school students that met the age requirement were eligible to apply to work at the Rodeo and earn some cash from their service. Students would head to the Rodeo on days they were scheduled for a shift, whether after school or on any day of the weekend. They were required to wear proper attire that consisted of a red vest handed to them upon their arrival, a white collared shirt, and dark blue jeans. Their jobs mainly consisted of operating the carnival games and ensuring they were in good condition for people to use. Yet, some scholars were assigned to run the register at food stands, and few could manage the carnival rides.

As mentioned earlier, students were rewarded with a paycheck for completing their shifts, but how much did they really earn? Students began making $12 an hour for their first two weeks of labor. That number would then increase to $14 an hour, but only for days during the week of Spring break. Although student work shift times vary, most would carry out their tasks six to eight hours a day. The total number of days worked is entirely dependent on the worker. They had the freedom to cover any other shifts they had not been initially assigned. Therefore, students had the opportunity to receive a worthwhile amount of money. For instance, Louis Sandoval received $995 for his time and effort at the Rodeo.

High school workers state that the working conditions were a mix of good and evil. Aaron Salvador says, “One of the things I enjoyed about working there was that all my coworkers were very respectful when I asked them for help. I also liked the amount of food there, but those prices were high. Sometimes people gave me an attitude after I explained something over and over.” “Working at the rodeo was great,” says Louis Sandoval, “most customers treated me great with the rare occasion of someone with an attitude. One thing I didn’t like was that I was standing the whole time.”

However, Louis adds that his job at the Rodeo did not interfere with his schoolwork. “I only worked during the weekend because I couldn’t really work the weekdays because I had school. The only thing I can say that it did academically was that I wasn’t able to do much schoolwork on the weekends or during Spring break. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward. I was able to manage everything just about right with the days I worked.”

When asked if they would work at the Rodeo again, students answered contrary to one another. Aaron responded, “I don’t want to deal with rude customers, and I also don’t want to stand the entire time, so I probably won’t work there again.” On the other hand, Louis replied, “Since I earned so much money, I will most definitely work there and try to possibly make more than I did this year.” Based on Louis’s and Aaron’s comments, working at the Rodeo has its pros and cons, but deciding on whether or not it’s a good idea, is truly dependent on the person.