By Britney GodfreyThe mouthwatering smell of barbeque filled the air at Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock, Texas, during the 71st annual Galveston County Fair and Rodeo, which ran April 17-25.
The Galveston County Fair and Rodeo was filled with events ranging from a student art exhibit to rodeo events to cook-off competitions.
This year marked the 34th annual cook-off. With the aroma of beans and ribs flowing in the air, the 272 cook-off teams competed in hope of winning first place.
“We are probably the largest county fair cook-off in Texas,” said volunteer Lew Benham who supervises the tasting competition contest.
Although the fair is jam-packed with carnival rides and food, there is a serious side to the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo that many people forget.
Scholarships are a huge part of the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo. Graduating 4H members, FFA members and Summer Series participants are eligible for the scholarships.
“4H and FFA seniors fill out an application and turn it in by deadline where a committee reviews them and scores them,” said Fair Coordinator Melondy Bender. “Then we take it before the executive committee with only scores and they determine the money amount. This year we had 23 applicants, and we gave something to every one of them.”
Galveston County Fair and Rodeo is unique in that almost every person working at the fair is a volunteer; these volunteers make giving scholarships possible.
“We are not county or state funded,” Bender said. “We are a nonprofit organization so everything that is done here is raising funds for scholarships and making improvements.”
The fair also reaches out to the community with special discount days such as senior citizens day and special kids day rodeo.
“A lot of people don’t know we have special days such as senior citizen days where there is no charge to them to come in, and we have things for them to do,” said Galveston County Fair and Rodeo President Paul Tibaldo. “We also have special kids day where we had a little over 1,000 special needs children come out and ride rides and do rodeo activities such as steer riding.”
Although the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo ended April 25, one can still enjoy a few upcoming events. There will be a fundraising fishing tournament on August 22, and the Summer Series will begin in June.
For more information about the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo and to register for upcoming events, visit www.gavlestoncountyfair.com.