HEMPSTEAD, Texas – The rains came to town in waves through the final few days of the Waller County Fair and Rodeo, but so did fair-goers.
“You can’t do anything about the rain; that’s Mother Nature’s job, but we were certainly pleased with how many people showed up for all the activities in spite of it,” said Matt Hyatt, president of the Waller County Fair Board.
“It just proves to me and the others on the fair board that we’re doing the right things.”
That’s been the case for a while. Over the past decade, the Waller County Fair and Rodeo has continued to blossom as an exposition. It has grown in every way possible, from a high-quality PRCA rodeo to multiple crowd-pleasing events at the rodeo arena to some incredible acts that make up a consistently solid concert lineup every year.
“This year we had so many people excited for the Bellamy Brothers that we had an incredible attendance on Thursday night,” said Mike Higgins, the fair board’s vice president. “That started off a fun final three nights of the fair with great attendance overall and for all three nights of concerts.
“I honestly couldn’t believe the crowds we saw Friday night after Hempstead received six inches of rain that day, but the people showed up. We got more rain on Saturday, and even more people showed up that night.”
It was a matter of redemption for one of the few fairs in the region to take place in 2020. While much of last year’s fair was pared down, it was a full show for eight eventful days this October.
“We had a record year in our Junior Livestock Auction,” Hyatt said. “We had something special for all of our exhibitors, our sponsors and our volunteers. Our vendors seemed very happy.
“Most importantly, we raised $70,000 for scholarships. We also had 400 kids in the welding competition and handed out $200,000 in welding scholarships. That’s a big deal to me, because we’re doing all this for the kids.”
The rodeo arena is where so many activities took place over the week of the exposition, from the specialty events like The Eliminator and the WPRA invitational breakaway roping to the three nights of the PRCA rodeo, which featured a payout of more than $100,000.
“We had great crowds for our rodeo,” said Clint Sciba, chairman of the fair board’s rodeo committee. “We had great crowds for our concerts, too, but we were really affected by the weather with that dirt arena. It was basically a mud arena, but we made it work. We actually moved our steer roping on Saturday morning to New Ulm (35 miles southwest of Hempstead), and that worked out great.
“We had top contestants in every event. We had the top personnel, like the crew from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo or Justin Rumford, who has been the clown of the year for a long time. Even in the mud, we proved that we could put on a great rodeo, and Justin helped us entertain the crowd.”
Come hell or high water, the Waller County Fair Board knew they had something special for fair-goers in 2021, and they were able to prove it.