Milroy Powell – 35 years as San Antonio Horse Show Superintendent 1950-1985
The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo was such a big part of my growing up since my daddy Milroy Powell first started in 1950 as the Horse Show Superintendent and his career ended the spring of 1985. Every year he spent a big part working on the preparation and coordination of the annual event which was held two weeks every February. He loved the people, the events and the horses which were a part of life. He was so hurt and devastated when Mary Nan West decided to “let him go” after 35 years of dedication and love of his job. The importance of his knowledge and abilities to run the show were ignored! This certainly was not how he envisioned his retirement. I was so proud of him and his work and miss him every day. Guy Milroy Powell went to heaven while waiting for a heart transplant on Easter weekend April 7, 1991. We lost him too young!!
This is the San Antonio Light article from December 15, 1985.
San Antonio Light
December 15, 1985
’86 Rodeo to Double Funds for Scholars
Officers of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo hope to double scholarship money for young prize winners at the 1986 show by cutting back on paid employees and using more volunteers to staff the annual event.
The 37th Stock Show & Rodeo is scheduled to open Feb 7 at Freeman Coliseum.
The purpose of the event, said Mary Nan West, president and chairman of the board of the San Antonio Livestock Exposition Inc., is “to help youth in agricultural education. That’s why we’re here.”
Even though the livestock show is the part of the event that is of greatest importance to people involved in agriculture, it doesn’t make enough money to support itself, West said. So the rodeo and entertainment part of the show supports the livestock part and even allows the exposition to show a profit, she said. “The rodeo we have is merely to raise funds, to make money to operate.” West said.
A great deal of the money collected through donations, fundraisers, souvenir sales, commercial exhibits and other means goes into a scholarship fund for FFA and 4-H students deserving of financial assistance in the academic study of agriculture. In 1984, 15 scholarships of $6,000 each were awarded and 30 were awarded in 1985. West hopes to double that figure in 1986.
The primary way West plans to get the stock show lean enough to be able to double the scholarships is through the use of a nearly all-volunteer staff. Of the hundreds of workers contributing to the Stock Show & rodeo, only six are full-time, year-round staff, she said. When the show actually begins, other full-timers will be taken on just for the term of the ten-day show.
“The volunteers make this show,” West said. “Without the volunteers we couldn’t afford to run this show. We’ve got some really hard-working people here.”
The Livestock Exposition is adding two new events to its horse show program: the Arabian horse show and the Donkey & Mule Show. While putting on the added events, the exposition is “doing something this year we’ve never done before. It was always handled by a paid employee,” West said. But “the officials decided that we had some very talented volunteers who could put on the horse show at not cost to the show.”
Longtime Horse Show Superintendent Milroy Powell, with the Stock Show since its inception in 1950, is the “paid employee” who lost his job when the payroll was thinned down.
“I did 35 of ’em,” Powell, 58, reminisced, speaking of his role as assistant superintendent and, later, superintendent of the horse show. “We built it up too, if not the best, one of the best.”
He said he’s been told several times over the years by rodeo contestants that the San Antonio show was “the best calf-roping in the world. You get a fair shake.”
“I’ve made a lot of friends out there,” said Powell, who worked for several exposition administrators. “Mr. Joe Freeman was chairman of the board forever until he died, and then Mr. Harry (Freeman), his brother, took over.” Powell worked under West from the time she took over in mid-1984 until the spring of 1985.
Powell has observed that trends in the Stock Show parallel trends in the marketplace. He says both are going towards animals with “rail-thin carcasses,” although Powell himself prefers a little fat on his animals.
The land the coliseum is on was deeded by the city of San Antonio to Bexar County in 1948 with the restriction that it be used for agricultural expositions. Shortly thereafter, a group of local businessmen including Joe and Harry Freeman, Perry Shankle, Fred Shield and Perry Kallison decided to build a coliseum, Powell recalled. The first Stock Show was held in 1950.