The Ellis County Livestock Show and Rodeo is headlined by two Texas country mainstays this year in Brandon Rhyder and Curtis Grimes.

The Ellis County Expo Center hosted its first county fair and rodeo during last year’s annual youth livestock show that took place in late March. Ellis County Expo president Lynda Isbell said that when the Youth Expo incorporated a junior and sanctioned pro rodeo in its first year, they enlisted the International Professional Rodeo Association to bring the rodeo experience to Ellis County.

This year, however, they’ve upgraded the rodeo to compete under the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which is the largest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world, according to The Wrangler Network.

“It was a big game-changer for this year’s show,” Isbell remarked.

However, the PRCA isn’t the only addition the Expo Center is making to this year’s livestock show. They’ve also added Texas country artists Curtis Grimes and Brandon Rhyder to the lineup. The two are scheduled to take the stage back-to-back after each evening rodeo Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23.

“We’re very excited to have them,” Isbell stated. “Our music committee sought out different artists, and we were very happy with their selection.”

CURTIS GRIMES

Raised on a steady diet of George Strait and Alan Jackson, Curtis Grimes appeared on the first season of a new reality television show called “The Voice” in 2011 after finishing a career in collegiate baseball. He competed throughout the season and ended up finishing in the top 10 under the tutelage of R&B singer Cee-Lo Green, according to his biography page.

After being eliminated in the quarterfinals, Grimes hit the road and started performing live across the nation – including at one point opening at a sold-out show for country artist Kenny Chesney.

"I love Texas," Grimes said. "I cut my teeth there. I played on friends’ couches and in college bars, then opened for Kenny, then played actual venues throughout the entire state, then did ‘The Voice’, then came back and played even bigger venues in Texas and other states.”

In 2014, Grimes and his hit single “Home to Me” was picked up by the national salon chain Supercuts, where it got to be featured in one of their commercials alongside Grimes himself.

In that same year, Grimes won “New Male Vocalist of the Year” at the annual Texas Regional Radio Award show and went on to pick up “Male Vocalist of the Year” at the Texas Country Music Association Awards Show.

To date, he’s had seven No. 1 songs place on the Texas Country Chart.

“It's been a steady climb,” Grimes remarked. “I’m ready to take my Texas roots and continued support from my fans to dig in and reach an even broader audience.”

The Canaan Bryce Band, based in Waxahachie and surrounding towns, will open for Grimes before his performance at around 9 p.m. Friday night.

BRANDON RHYDER

Debuting his first album “Because She Loves Me” in May 2001, Brandon Rhyder has been a part of the red dirt scene for over 17 years. According to his biography page, his first number-one single on the Texas Country Music Chart came from “Before I Knew Your Name” off of his fourth album “Live” in 2007.

His most recent self-titled album “Brandon Rhyder” was released in July 2017 and was produced by his mentor Walt Wilkins, who also worked with Rhyder on his 2006 album “Conviction” and his 2010 album “Head Above Water.”

“’Conviction’ was the one that was either going to work or not,” Rhyder said. “This new record comes from the same place.”

Rhyder previously remarked that he took a four-year hiatus between his last album “That’s Just Me” in 2013 and “Brandon Rhyder” in 2017.

“I had to step back and rethink who I was and what I was doing,” Rhyder said. “I needed to clear my mind and take a break from the day-to-day business for a while. And it was the best thing I could have ever done.”

During his hiatus, Rhyder said he had to decide whether or not if this line of work is what he wants to do for the rest of his life. His 10-track-album was his answer.

“In that time, I feel I’ve evolved, grown and realized it’s not just about me,” Rhyder continued. “It’s about family, relationship, legacy. The big things.”

The Preston Scott Band, based out of Midlothian, will open for Rhyder before his performance at around 9 p.m. Saturday night.

Tickets run for adults at $20 and children 4-11 at $10. Children under age three are free and parking is $5 per vehicle. To reserve tickets, call 972-825-6050 or go online at www.elliscountyyouthexpo.com.