Exhibitor Since 2020- Behind the Sign

Exhibitor Since 2020- Behind the Sign

As the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo approaches, so does the thought of driving 2 days away from home and our kids.  It is a hard thing to do and it has been harder.  There have been times we seriously thought about not going.  But, then we are reminded of how we got there, and why we are in one of the best western trade shows in the country.  There was a defining moment here, one we call a ‘desert moment’ (I will explain later).

Dixie and I lived on my family's ranch for 14 years and started raising our family there.  Leaving there was the Lord’s calling, but one of the hardest things we did.  We left in March of 2019.  We hadn't even made close to enough from Pure Dixie the previous year to live off of, it was definitely a leap of faith!

That summer was our second year at Cheyenne Frontier Days.  We had gotten a bigger booth, which was great, but we were quite a ways from making things work with our new, sole means of living.  We prayed a lot for guidance in those days (and still do).  In one of her times talking to God, Dixie felt like He revealed to her that something was going to happen in Cheyenne that would guide us to our next big step.  But, it was more specific than that- SOMEONE was going to come by the booth.

The Cheyenne show was great, better than we could have imagined.  Dixie called me every evening to tell me how it went.  Every day was good.  Then one day, she called me and I could tell something was off.  She had been on the verge of crying all day.  I asked her what was wrong.  She told me about a couple she met who came by the booth.  Strangers at the time, but our now good friends, Bob and Randi.  Randi bought a bag, and her husband, Bob, was on a committee at Rodeo Houston.  Dixie had been upset all day because she knew this was the answer to her prayers, and she didn't want to go that far, all the way to Houston!

Later on we discovered that the pressure was off since getting into the show on the first year of application is almost unheard of.  Still, we put our best foot forward and showed the commercial exhibit committee in Houston, Texas why Pure Dixie was different.  And…wouldn't you know it, we were accepted!  We got a 10x10 booth and they sent us their 97 page vendor handbook.  We spent weeks getting ready for this great adventure that was to start in March of 2020.

We loaded our brand new booth we built (to meet all the qualifications for the massive vendor handbook) and the most belts, bags and minis we had up to that point. We had started hearing of CoronaVirus, and the jokes about it coming from drinking Mexican beer, but it did not seem like a threat. The show was slow, but we had no expectations.   Dixie was  featured on one of the popular Houston morning TV programs to show our interchangeable leather bags AND we were interviewed by the Houston Chronicle newspaper (We love to tell the true story that Pure Dixie was featured in the Houston Chronicle before it was featured in the Saratoga Sun, our local paper!)   And to top it off we won the Best New Booth Award, life was great!  

I had planned to leave after a week, and as I was leaving to go home to take care of our kids, we heard how a convention in San Antonio was shut down.  Meanwhile, the mayor of Houston was saying, there is nothing to worry about  and encouraging people to go have fun at the rodeo!  It just never dawned on me they could shut down the Houston rodeo.  I had been back home one day with the kids, and Dixie called and told me the news.  Day 8 and they shut it down!  It was a blow to us, we couldn't believe it.  Mostly, we couldn't understand why all this had happened, why we went so far away, spent all that time and invested in inventory when we really believed this was going to be a great step forward for us.  Did we hear things wrong from God?  Dixie was so sure.  Everything felt like it fell right into place, and now this.   

Maybe one reason Dixie was there was a 16 year old girl.  Her parents had dropped her and her show cattle off and left earlier in the week.  When they shut down the rodeo, everyone left or was expected to leave.  Dixie prayed with the young girl since she was all alone waiting for her parents to come back with the trailer and pick up her and her cattle.

I got on the next flight I could find to get back to Houston and back to Dixie.  We were so excited and relieved to see each other.  Still reeling from the shutdown, we got loaded up, and went back to the apartment we rented in Houston.  We were happy to be together, and only one thing was on our minds, getting back to our kids.  We just sat there, watching the news and wondering what was going on like everyone else, wondering what to do next.  We had spent pretty much everything we had on inventory for this show.  We can be very reserved with spending money, but Dixie’s parents told us to have courage and go for it, reminding us we couldn't sell what we did not have!  But now, were they wrong?  Did we hear wrong?  The thoughts were loud, but getting back to our kids was louder.  We drove for two days and what a great homecoming it was!

The rest of that year, we did everything we could to sell through that inventory.  We ended up having a great year despite not having Cheyenne Frontier Days, which we were counting on.  We know ourselves well enough to know that if we hadn't made enough for Houston, we would not have had the courage to get all that inventory, nor would we have had the fire to get out there and sell it.  We went to every major event that was open that year; Black Hills Roundup in Belle Fourche, SD, Sturgis Bike Rally in Sturgis, SD, National Finals Rodeo in Ft Worth, TX, and Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, SD the following January.  Had we not stepped out and prepared for Houston, I am pretty sure we would have spent 2020 scared and doing nothing.  

Looking back, this was a desert moment for us.  We have had a lot of desert moments.  These are moments when we left the last watering hole (maybe some great encouragement at the last show, money coming in) and we set off for the next oasis.  Then, we get in the middle of the desert, out of water (money, momentum, something unexpected happens).  We stop and look around, and there on the ground all around are the skeletons of other businesses that died right there, right where we are standing.  We have to decide, do we die here too?  Do we say, “well, we tried'' and move on to something else?  Or do we pick up what we have, know we are being tested and tough it out to the next watering hole, realizing  it might get worse before it gets better?  Pure Dixie could have died right there.  It could have been a time to start looking for a different job, another source of income.  But we had faith that it was part of the plan and we pressed on! 

Isaiah 55:8 says ‘ “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.’  We have to trust even if it doesn't make sense at the time.

Now, we are headed back for our fourth year to be vendors at HLSR!   It is kind of cool to see our sign in Houston.  The signs at the booths always say ‘Exhibitor Since________’.  Ours is such a great reminder.  If you come by our booth you will see our sign and maybe know a little bit behind the story of: ‘Pure Dixie, Howdy Drive, B4048, Exhibitor Since 2020’!

Kirby and Dixie Rodeo Houston 2022

Vendor Sign


Dixie and Kelsey 2020

Rodeo Houston Booth

Cheyenne Committee Visiting Our Booth In Houston!

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