BELLVILLE, Texas – The Austin County Fair and Rodeo offers quite a bit more than a chance for cowboys and cowgirls to win good money.
It also offers a lot of fun – for contestants, fans and sponsors. From the great fair atmosphere to the carnival rides to a championship-caliber rodeo, a great deal is happening at Bellville’s rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12-Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Austin County Fairgrounds.
“The atmosphere there is great,” said Chuck Swisher, one of the bullfighters who will work the rodeo. “It’s a stock show and rodeo. It’s cool to have the whole community come together and make such a great event.
“It’s a rodeo crowd. They know what’s going on, who to cheer for, what pays the rent there. It’s a really good crowd every night and a lot of fun. They also have a good concert every night.”
That’s true. This year’s fair will feature headliners Daryle Singletary on Thursday, Tracy Lawrence on Friday and the Charlie Daniels Band on Saturday.
“I think what makes it the most fun is that it’s a good ol’ fashioned fair and rodeo,” said Kelly Kaminski, a two-time world champion barrel racer from Bellville. “The committee takes care of the contestants. The hospitality is great. When you rodeo and you’re coming in from a long way away, it’s nice to not have to worry about supper.”
Kaminski has never had to worry about that at her hometown rodeo, but she’s been on the rodeo trail enough to understand the necessity that comes with outstanding hospitality. But what cowboys and cowgirls also get is an opportunity to play the game in front of amazing fans. This year’s list of entries has increased by more than 60, so that says quite a bit about Bellville’s rodeo.
“The atmosphere around here is a little Germanic,” she said. “A lot of old families that have settled here are German, Czech and Polish. We’ve got just about everything under the sun. There’s a lot of fun to be had, and this is their time to shine.
“It’s really an Oktoberfest feel to this fair and rodeo, and that makes it a lot of fun.”
That includes the rodeo, which regularly features many of the biggest names in the sport. Caleb Smidt, who won the all-around title in his hometown of Bellville last year, earned the 2015 tie-down roping world championship, and he is heading to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the fourth time in five years – the only year he missed the finale was in 2014 after suffering an injury.
He is just one of many NFR veterans who are expected to be in Bellville, but that’s just what fans have come to expect.
“It really is a great little rodeo,” Kaminski said.