HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The people of Waller County needed something. They’d been stuck in isolation for months, and a reprieve was in order
Enter the community’s biggest event, the Waller County Fair and Rodeo. It was the perfect escape from the monotony that had come through the early months of the pandemic.
“First off, we were blessed that our governor allowed things to open up sooner than many other states,” said Matt Hyatt, president of the Waller County Fair Board. “The next thing that happened was that we as a board decided to push forward with our fair and rodeo. We believed then, just as we believe now, that it was important for the people in our communities to have our fair and rodeo last October.”
That dedication to serving the community paid off. With the help of a faithful group of sponsors, there were concerts, livestock shows, exhibits and all the activities at the rodeo arena, from the PRCA rodeo to the popular Eliminator competitions.
“We felt an obligation to help as many as possible through the pandemic in our control, like food vendors, beverage companies, entertainment, rodeo companies and all the people that are in that industry,” said Mike Higgins, vice president of the fair board. “Those that help put on our rodeo – our announcer, our sound director, our pickup men, our rodeo secretary, timers, clown, bullfighters – and the contestants live on what they do at the rodeo.
“We were looking out for them, too.”
The 2020 fair and rodeo wasn’t a full exposition. Because of the pandemic, some items were pared down a bit, but the fair board continued to push forward and have as many events and exhibits as possible to provide an outlet to the community and to allow its people to celebrate.
“It will be nice to have our carnival back and going, along with the natural flow of people enjoying their fair experience,” Higgins said. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished a year ago. The families, the kids … they needed that. We needed that.
“This community needed to feel the excitement that comes with having the county fair and our local rodeo. Every community was impacted by COVID, and our community was blessed with sponsors that still supported our event. We were able to let the kids finish the projects they started, and they were excited to show them, too. Yes, this is a community event, but really, it’s always been about the kids.”