HEMPSTEAD, Texas – From opening night until the final curtain closed on the 2023 Waller County Fair and Rodeo, there was a resounding feeling of euphoria.
“We had some minor adjustments we made once we started, but the fair board has been extremely happy with what we’ve experienced at this year’s fair and rodeo,” said Clint Sciba, president of the Waller County Fair Board. “We had some amazing crowds, and they got to experience great events in the newly covered rodeo arena and some exciting concerts.
“This will be one of the years to remember. We had a lot of people come into the fairgrounds this year, which is really saying something. We’ve had great crowds before, but this was special.”
Fairgoers made the easy transition to the reworked parking and entry points, so that helped make for a better experience overall. Once inside the new entrance, the massive arena was open and on display immediately. It was for good reason.
“We were really excited about the opening with the freestyle bullfights and everything we had going on,” said Paul Shollar, the fair board’s vice president. “By the time our PRCA rodeo came around, everybody was really excited about what was going on. To top it off, we closed out our fair and rodeo with Aaron Watson on the final Saturday night, so we were able to make some big things happen.”
For years, the three days of ProRodeo action have been a highlight in Hempstead, and this year’s edition more than answered the bell. Several hundred cowboys and cowgirls made their way to southeast Texas to not only be part of the competition but to experience the electric atmosphere. It was one of the largest contingents of contestants to have ever made a run or ride in Waller County over the three-day period.
“We were very pleased with our PRCA rodeo,” said Dustin Standley, a longtime fair board member and its former president. “Pete Carr Pro Rodeo has been a partner with us since we went from having an amateur rodeo to a ProRodeo, and we know that helps us draw many of the top-name contestants, but we also want to do the right things for them to keep them coming back.
“I think with the covered arena, the new hospitality barn and the other changes we made starting this year, that will help be a tipping point for a lot of these cowboys. Barrel racers found out pretty quickly that the ground was going to be good, and we had some really fast runs.
“It was a lot of fun for us and for the fans. We had a good crowd Thursday, and the stands were packed Friday and Saturday. It was everything you could ask for in a rodeo.”
The purpose of the county fair, though, is always on the youth of Waller County. The exhibitors’ that put their work on display proved the importance of the fair to the communities inside the county’s borders. The junior livestock auction continues to be a major aspect of the exposition, and the event’s supporters made an impact on that.
“The bottom line for us is always the youth of Waller County,” Sciba said. “We put on this fair for the community, and we’ve got excellent partners and sponsors that make it happen. Because of them, we are able to give back to the kids.”