The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo has announced the retirement of W. R. “Bob” Watt, Jr. In honor of Watt’s more than 40 years of service to the organization, Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief will host a public ceremony proclaiming May 4th, 2010 as W.R. “Bob” Watt, Jr. Day in the City of Fort Worth. (See details below). Watt will continue his service to the Show as President Emeritus; he will retain an office at the organization’s headquarters and consult on an on-going, pro-bono basis.
Watt became Secretary and General Manager of the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show (otherwise known as the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo) in 1973. He assumed the office of President and General Manager in 1978, and since 2007 has continued to serve as President after stepping down as General Manager.
Under his direction, the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo has grown significantly. Since Watt assumed the presidency, the Show has expanded from 12 to 24 days, and has grown from five to 16 full-time employees. Livestock entries have increased more than 50 percent, from 14,560 animals shown in 1978 to more than 22,000 animals this year. Additionally, the number of livestock auctions has grown from seven to 17 with sales receipts increasing more than six-fold from $744,000 to more than $5 million. In 1978 the Grand Champion Steer sold for $16,000 and in 2010 the Grand Champion Steer sold for a record $210,000. The Stock Show currently hosts nearly a million visitors each year, up from 610,000 in 1978. Watt has also been instrumental in advancing the Show’s international appeal and prominence, last year hosting some 648 visitors from 41 foreign nations. Due to the ever-increasing stature of the Show, many of the international guests now come with the intention of purchasing high-quality livestock from many of our country’s most respected breeders.
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In 1978, 500 rodeo contestants were hosted with a total of $138,000 in prize money and entry fees.
In 2010, 1,287 rodeo contestants from 20 states and Canada competed for $594,000 in total purse. Watt is also responsible for the addition of a number of highly popular events, including: Best of the West Ranch Rodeo; Bulls’ Night Out PRCA Extreme Bull Riding; Best of Mexico Celebración; and most recently, the Cowboys of Color Rodeo.
In addition, under Watt’s leadership significant additions and improvements have been made to the Will Rogers Memorial Center, home to the Stock Show since 1944. These improvements include the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall in 1984, the world-class Will Rogers Equestrian Center encompassing The Burnett Building, The Richardson-Bass Building and the Equestrian Center Parking Garage in 1988, the Charlie & Kit Moncrief Building in 1996, marking the Stock Show’s Centennial Year, and the Ticket Office and Visitors’ Center in 1999. Since the event’s move to Will Rogers in 1944, the Stock Show has contributed more than $50 million to the City of Fort Worth in additions and improvements to the Center (stated in today’s dollars).
Stock Show Chairman Edward P. Bass praised Watt’s service, saying “Bob’s leadership skills along with his passion for the Stock Show and the City of Fort Worth have left a legacy for future leaders of the Show. His contributions will help guide the organization to continued success. He is a true friend of the City, of agriculture and rodeo, and of mine.”
Bradford S. Barnes, newly elected President and General Manager, stated, “Bob exemplifies the spirit upon which the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show was founded; that is, to promote continuing improvement in the breeding, raising and marketing of livestock and to encourage the pursuit of excellence generally throughout the livestock and agricultural industry. It has been a privilege and an honor to work with Bob these past 25 years, which is when I started at the Show as a committeeman. I am humbled to have been elected to carry forward his legacy of maintaining tradition in a changing world.”
A native of Fort Worth, Watt grew up at the Stock Show under the guidance of his father, the late W.R. Watt, Sr., who was President of the Show from 1946 until his death in 1977. Watt received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry from Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) at Stillwater,
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Oklahoma. During his college years, he became involved on a part-time basis with the annual Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.
For several years in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he held various Division Superintendent positions. From 1963 until 1968 he served as Assistant to the Livestock and Horse Show Managers.
Watt was named to the Stock Show Board of Directors in 1958, and became Executive Assistant to his father in 1969. The following year he advanced to Assistant General Manager. In 1973 he assumed the dual post of Board Secretary and General Manager. Upon his father’s death in 1977, Watt was named President and General Manager. In 1996, his father was honored posthumously with the naming of the W.R. Watt Arena in the Charlie & Kit Moncrief Building located at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
Watt will continue to be active in the Watt Cattle Company, a family ranching operation in Throckmorton County. Watt currently serves on the Board of the First Methodist Church of Fort Worth Foundation and the Board of the Jane and John Justin Foundation. He is a past member of the Harris Methodist Hospital Board as well as past Vice President of the Board of Harris Methodist Hospital and past President of the Board of the First Methodist Church of Fort Worth Foundation. Watt, and his wife Jerri, have two children and nine grandchildren.
About the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
The 115th Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is scheduled for January 14 through February 5, 2011. Celebrating Fort Worth’s historic ties to livestock and the people who raise them, the Stock Show provides visitors with a host of entertainment and educational events for the whole family. For more information call (817) 877-2400 or visit www.fwssr.com.
NOTE: The public ceremony recognizing W.R. “Bob” Watt, Jr. will be held at 7:00 p.m. during the regularly scheduled Fort Worth City Council Meeting, where Mayor Mike Moncrief will present Mr. Watt with a proclamation naming May 4, 2010 as W. R. “Bob” Watt Jr. Day in the City of Fort Worth. The event will take place in the City Council Chamber, on the 3rd Floor of City Hall, which is located at 1000 Throckmorton Street, in downtown Fort Worth.