Rodeo expected to bring thousands to Arlington and Fort Worth, in the midst of a pandemic

The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo will see 14,000 spectators per night at Globe Life Field alone.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas – Updated at 8:41 pm with more information about Cowboy Christmas.

In a year when the crowd has been scarce, Tarrant County is preparing for some big ones.

“We expect tens of thousands of visitors to our community in 12 days,” said Mike Crum, director of the Fort Worth public events division.

Wranglers National Finals Rodeo (NFR) is coming to North Texas this week. The events begin on Thursday, December 3rd. The high-profile event is known as the “Super Bowl of Rodeos,” said Crum.

The rodeo itself will be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington with 14,000 people a night, Crum said. Supporting events across Fort Worth, including the Cowboy Christmas Market at the Convention Center, will also attract thousands of visitors.

“A great shot in the arm for the city financially,” said Crum.

All of this is happening as the county sees thousands of new COVID cases every week. The WFAA asked Crum if he was concerned about the tens of thousands of people expected in Fort Worth and Arlington.

“Yes, are we concerned? Absolutely. But we are also prepared, ”he said.

Crum said they offer voluntary temperature tests on the doors and will even refer guests to COVID tests if they are not comfortable.

“We literally have hundreds of thousands of masks available to share with guests,” he said.

Winnsboro-based Kimberly Redding was thrilled not to have to travel out of state for the rodeo this year. She is one of the 243 exhibitors at this year’s rodeo. Her small business, R Cinco Ranch, has been represented at the annual rodeo event for several years.

Redding said their lifestyle shop will hopefully bring in 25% of their annual income over the next 10 days.

“I really have no concerns. [The organizers] made it very clear from their expectations, “said Redding.

The WFAA asked Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley if this was the right time to invite events like this to the ward. This is the darkest phase of the pandemic to date, medical experts say.

“It’s a tough decision,” said Whitley.

RELATED: Tarrant County Judge Says Youth Sports Are Contributing To A Spike In COVID-19 Cases

Whitley wasn’t part of that decision but said he won’t be guessing the mayors of Fort Worth and Arlington. He asks visitors to respect the protocols.

“I hope they will understand the severity of this pandemic and will do everything possible to work with us and not completely ignore the fact that we are doing this,” he said.

Crum appeared confident in the city’s decision to bring the event to Arlington. That decision was made 90 days ago. He said there was no discussion of canceling the event, although pandemic statistics are now worse than when the decision was made.

“We can do this successfully,” he said – an insurance company that is busy.

WFAA reporter Jobin Panicker contributed to this report.

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