BRENDA JARRETT, executive director of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Texas County Fair is changing for 2015. In keeping with this year’s theme of “Together We Can Break the Record” announced at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet in January, organizers are planning to break all records when it comes to the annual fair events.

Chamber President Gayla Bratton and Executive Director Brenda Jarrett inked a contract with Tony Lowery and the Lowery Carnival Company, Inc., during the 70th annual Missouri Association of Fairs and Festivals (MAFF) convention held in Columbia on Jan. 29 – Feb. 1. The agreement will bring a premier carnival company to the Texas County Fair for 2015.

When he was a young man, Lowery’s family provided the carnival entertainment when the fair was held near the high school; therefore he has fond memories of Houston and the surrounding area. Lowery said he is “committed to building up the Texas County Fair.” By changing the dates to July 22-25, the carnival company will travel to Houston from the Northeast Missouri Fair in Kirksville (NEMO) and then move on to the Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield July 30 – Aug. 8. Texas County Fair Board President Darren Ice was consulted about the change and he contacted fair board members on Saturday and they supported the addition of the larger carnival and the change in dates.

Attending the MAFF convention was a first for chamber representatives. According to Bratton, “It was amazing to see all of the possibilities” that could be brought to the fair. Throughout the convention, performers were showing off their talents by acting in the exhibitor areas, on stage in the lobby or performing in one of the showcase events at each banquet. A showcase of talent included country, country rock, rock and roll, blues and blue grass performers, as well as comedy acts and tribute performers.

Educational seminars were held on Saturday morning to allow attendees to learn everything from agriculture, livestock, insurance, fair management, and motorsports. During the Motorsports – Pulls, Derbies and Monster Trucks seminar on Saturday, attendees shared information regarding attendance and crowd expectations at their own events. Randy Taylor, representing Monster X Tour, said changing for the future is necessary for all fairs. “The same old things are not working,” he said. “You need to change it up each year.” 

Over 80 exhibitors were in attendance at the MAFF convention which allowed attendees to get new ideas and learn promotion techniques for every aspect of a fair or festival. Exhibits included sound and light set ups, rodeos, truck and tractor pulls, demolition derbies, carnivals, musicians, hypnotists, magicians, circus performers, stilt walkers, wrestlers and various other entertainers. Also included in the exhibits were advertising, award regalia, fair and rain insurance, and portable bleacher companies. The Texas County Fair in one of the 158 fairs and festivals in the state that is a member of MAFF.

Other changes within the Houston Chamber of Commerce include officers for 2015 and use of the Houston Visitors Center. The new officers elected at the monthly board meeting on Jan. 22 were Gayla Bratton, president; Bruce Scheets, first vice president; and Tammy Cantrell, second vice president. Volunteers Viki Narancich, secretary, and Eric Wells, treasurer, were also approved. Board members include Joe Stockard, Kim Stipanovich, Tyler Romines, Travis Rector, Bud Evans and Jerad Gentry. The chamber entered into a contract with the City of Houston beginning Jan. 1, 2015, and now rents the Houston Visitors Center where the chamber office is located. To request use of the center for meetings, mail the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce at P.O. Box 374, Houston, Mo., 65483 or call the chamber office at 417-967- 2220.

The Houston Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors meets in the visitors center at 4 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month.

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