Fair is a big show for a small price

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Volunteers come out to support the annual event, raise money for scholarships

HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The Waller County Fair and Rodeo is an exposition, an exhibition and a great place for affordable family entertainment.

It’s also an entity that gives back to the community primarily through scholarships.

“The scholarship program means more to the board of directors than anything we have going,” said Dustin Standley, second vice president and chairman of the fair board’s sponsorship committee. “We’re giving kids the opportunity to go to college, a trade school, a technical school or the military. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter to us. I think it’s important to grow this fair, because growing the fair potentially gives more money back to the scholarships.”

A few years ago, about $8,000 in scholarships was handed out to youth. Last year, that figure reached about $45,000.

That’s one of the greatest parts of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, which runs Sept. 28-Oct. 7 in Hempstead. Throw in the fact that day passes for adults are just $10 ($5 for children), and anyone can see what an entertainment value there is. Season passes for admission or the entire nine-day run of the fair are $25 in advance, $30 at the gate. What makes it such a great deal for the entertainment dollar?

The action-packed fair kicks off with Texas-based artist Kevin Fowler, who provides high energy performances with in-your-face music that has been a drawing card for a number of fans. That show begins Saturday, Sept. 29. In addition, fans will get to enjoy the great country stylings of Jake Hooker on Thursday, Oct. 4; Austin legend Corey Morrow and Texas music’s Cody Johnson on Friday, Oct. 5; and Nashville artist Jerrod Niemann – whose popular song “Lover Lover” raced up the country charts – closes the fair on Saturday, Oct. 6.

“We have a lot of great things going on,” said Clint Sciba, vice president of the fair. “Over the last three or four years, we’ve grown our overall sales and attendance. We have grown our programs inside the fair. With that, we’ve been able to grow our rodeo side.”

The rodeo is in its second year as part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and will feature many of the top names of the game during its three-day run from Oct. 4-6. Three of those are from the area – bareback rider Clint Cannon from Waller and tie-down ropers Cory Solomon of Prairie View and Fred Whitfield of Hockley. All three have played on the grandest stage in the sport, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

“We’re building something in Waller County,” said Cannon, a three-time NFR qualifier. “The crowd really got into it last year and loved it.

“I think the people there are treating everybody right. We’ve got good people promoting it, and we’re going to see that in the contestants who come to our rodeo.”

But the ProRodeo isn’t the only show in town.

“We’re having eight straight days of rodeo action at the fair,” said Paul Schroeder, co-chairman of the rodeo committee. “Every single night you can come to the arena and see something good. Even if it’s the county roping or an open tie-down roping, you’re going to get that type of participation.”

But there are so many other activities during the fair, the admission price is more than affordable.

“We’ve got all kinds of ag programs, and we’ve added an ag mechanics show, a videography contest and a Go Tejano Day to recognize the Hispanic culture of our county,” Sciba said. “This also is the first year that we’ve had a carnival on both weekends of the fair, so that’s a pretty big deal for us.”

Of course, no fair would be complete with the livestock shows and competition, a greased pig contest, a kids tractor pull and plenty of other exhibitions.

“The fair is set up to give back to the community as far as entertainment and the other things it brings, and it’s one of the top events in the county,” Sciba said. “It’s our job to continue to grow this. You have to have some hard-working people and some hard-working volunteers.”

In fact, an event of this magnitude can’t happen without a great combination.

“We’ve got 25 board members that volunteer year-round,” Sciba said. “We’ve got 625 volunteers. That’s incredible. It truly is a community coming together to put this thing on. What’s even better is we’ve got volunteers who want to be more involved in our fair.”


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