New Livestock Show GM Looking To Make His Mark On Iconic Event
Armando “Mando’’ Correa spent decades taking his agricultural education students to the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in competitions for prize money under the roofs of the big barns in Mercedes.
Thoughts would wonder in his mind on how the iconic livestock show could be even better. The Willacy County native has known farming and ranching all his life and his 30 years of experience in working with students and community members in agricultural education turned out to be a staging ground for an even bigger job ahead.
Correa last June was named the new general manager of the RGV Livestock Show and in settling into the job in recent months the scope of the business has come into full realization.
“I feel a tremendous responsibility,’’ Correa said. “Given my background in agriculture, I was willing to give it, (GM job), a whirl and I’ve been busy learning that it’s much more than just the livestock show.’’
The traditions and legacy of the eight decade-old RGVLS are now in the hands of Correa and his 18-member board. A livestock show that has always been in Mercedes and whose origins date back to the early years of the city is moving ahead under a general manager steeped deep in experience in educating students about agriculture, but who long had another ambition in mind.
“It was a goal of mine,’’ Correa said of becoming the livestock show’s general manager. “It was an emotional moment for my family and I when I found out they (board) had hired me.’’
The 81st edition of the RGVLS is coming up and Correa and his staff working out of the old National Guard armory adjacent to livestock show grounds are busy taking calls and incoming visitors in getting ready for another show in March. It’s a $1 million-plus business and the year-round aspects of the RGVLS have become apparent to Correa.
There are departments under the general manager’s watch that are actively seeking event sponsorships, setting up the many educational programs, rodeos, livestock entries, carnivals and the marketing and promotional efforts leading up to the annual livestock show. There are also a number of events held on livestock grounds in the months between the annual March shows that attract tens of thousands of visitors.
“I just want to pull it off,’’ Correa said of managing his first RGV Livestock Show, which will be held March 12-22 in Mercedes. “The shows have been successful for many years and I want us to maintain that success.’’
Correa with his educational background is sure to stay true to the livestock show core mission of supporting youth with prize money and scholarship opportunities. He would like to diversify the livestock show’s appeal a bit to attract more youth outside of agriculture. Correa said he has the active support of his board that has expertise in different aspects of the livestock show and are helpful in gearing up for the yearly March event in Mercedes.
“I’m already nervous,’’ he said with a smile of the upcoming event. “Let’s keep it going.’’
Ricardo D. Cavazos