After being held last year in October and conducted under COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the North Texas Fair and Rodeo returns to its August roots while welcoming as many people as possible in 2021.
The 93rd rendition will take place Aug. 20-28 at the North Texas Fair Grounds north of U.S. 380 in Denton.
In 2020, crowd sizes and areas were regulated, 100 hand sanitizers were placed throughout the grounds, and plexiglass was installed at the concession stands. Everything was sanitized daily, and masks were mandated at all the gates.
“There was a lot of added expense with a lot of decreased crowds, but it was 100 percent better than not having it,” said Executive Director Glenn Carlton.
While hand sanitizers return this year, and there will be plenty of places to social distance for those still apprehensive about the virus, Carlton expects 200,000 or more people to enjoy themselves over the nine-day run.
Back after a seven-year absence will be Tumbleweed Crossing, a wild west stunt show that will be conducted every day. Another popular attraction that has delighted attendees for years is Swifty Swine, the swimming pig who also will take part in the pig races. Talley Amusements will again operate the midway as it has for 10 years.
Probably the biggest attraction will be the music with a stellar list of top country artists including Aaron Watson, Terri Clark, Michael Salgado, Jake Hooker, Giovonnie and the Hired Guns, Randall King, Midland, Flatland Cavalry, and Sawyer Brown. Most nights will feature three acts on two stages in addition to the daily rodeo including the PRCA, Invitational Ranch, 21 and Under, Bull Blowout, and Mutton Bustin.’
“I think the all-inclusiveness is the big thing,” Carlton said. “You get the rodeo and the music and the whole fair for one price. And along with the great entertainment, you get other things like the livestock show and creative arts. You get to see a lot of Americana and a lot of community.”
Helping Carlton and his small staff will be a corps of about 800 volunteers focused on making the fair/rodeo a success.
“They have been the strength and backbone of this organization forever,” said Executive Assistant Nanci Kimney.
The event has been conducted at its current 33-acre site since 1945 when Dr. W.C. Kimbrough sold the property to the Denton County Fair Association for $5. Before that, it was held at other Denton County sites but primarily featured horse and mule races.
Within the next five years, the fair is expected to move to a 109-acre property purchased in 2014 at I-35 and Ganzer. It most likely will be a joint effort between the fair and Denton County. Until then, however, people can enjoy all the North Texas Fair and Rodeo has to offer.
“Right now, we’re a 100-acre fair on 33 acres,” Carlton said. “The new location will be more than a fairgrounds nine days a year. We’ll be able to host road shows and youth sports. It’s going to be multipurpose.”
Aug. 23-25 | $15 for anyone age 12 and older
Aug. 20-22 & 27-28 | $20
Aug. 26 | $30
Military and those age 55 and older receive a $5 discount each day
Children 6-11 are $5 and 6 and under free throughout the fair.
This year’s sponsors include Miller Lite (music), Coors (rodeo), Samsung (carnival), First State Bank (livestock barn); Commercial Bank (exhibits), First United (Fun Zone), Peterbilt (Kids Zone), and DATCU.
photos courtesy of Kelsey Hodges