HEMPSTEAD, Texas – If you ask him to describe the best part of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, Dustin Standley has a quick answer.
“It all comes down to youth and educational support,” said Standley, the fair’s sponsorship chairman. “I think a lot of the guys on the fair board realized that if we can continue to prosper and help a child’s education, it not only helps our community better, but it helps us grow as a fair.
“We looked around at what was needed, and we realized that the important thing for us was youth and education, and not just college but all forms of education. It takes engineers to design buildings, and it takes fabricators to build that building, and if we can give all those kids a chance to further their education, then we’re doing our part.”
That’s one of the many aspects of the nine-day festival that has drawn the appreciation of Pete Carr, owner of Dallas-based Carr Pro Rodeo, the livestock producer for the rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4-Saturday, Oct. 6, at the fairgrounds in Hempstead.
“You can tell the fair’s leadership really cares about the community and about helping kids with their education,” Carr said. “You can see they’re getting more people behind it, which is great.”
It comes in all forms, Standley said. The biggest thing is to continue to look for new and improved ways to help grow the product, from using technology better to adding to the overall entertainment for the fairgoers’ dollars.
“I’m taking a huge gamble to overhaul our sponsorship package, but it all comes down to money,” he said. “You get more money from corporate sponsors, and it comes back in the form of giving back to the community. We’re able to get better entertainers and expand our carnival and put on a PRCA rodeo instead of a smaller rodeo.
“I think that’s a big plus for our county fair. We’ve been able to develop relationships with corporate people, yet keep it affordable for community business owners to become big players. That has allowed us to invest in the fair, into technology and into the kids’ education.”
The feedback has been excellent. Fairgoers enjoy the enhanced experience and the overall entertainment value.
“People see that we’re giving to scholarships, and because of that, they don’t mind giving money to the fair,” Standley said. “The fair has grown in the last few years, and everybody’s benefitting from that. Four years ago, we gave about $8,000. Last year, we gave about five times that much.”
How does Carr Pro Rodeo impact the bottom line?
“Carr production brings something big to our small town,” Standley said. “They bring cowboys and cowgirls from around that are able to be seen. Having professional rodeo in a small town is like a kid looking at a Corvette and knowing that’s what they want to drive. For a young cowboy, it’s a way for the little kids to look up to their Superman.
“A production like Carr Pro Rodeo puts on in our rodeo shows our community that had never been showcased before.”
The plan is to continue making the strides in order to make the fair and rodeo a showcase for the region, not just Waller County.
“We are honored to be part of something like this, where they’re working so hard to raise money for scholarships,” Carr said. “It’s like being on the ground floor of something blossoming, and I hope we can continue to raise the bar as far as how much is paid in sponsorships.”
That’s where Standley comes in and works his magic.
“I wanted to have a place where corporate people would want to come in and say ‘This is where I want to be, where I want to give my money,’ ” Standley said. “My goal is to eventually get to where we’re giving away $100,000 in scholarships every year.”