It’s something that never gets old.

No matter how many times I attend the Texas County Fair and Old Settlers Reunion, I come away with unique feelings of satisfaction and amazement I don’t really get anywhere else.

Like so many of their predecessors, the 2018 versions of the fair and OSR didn’t disappoint. On each of the four days that the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds were abuzz with activity, there was pretty much always something of interest going on.

The Texas County Fair is really the only place I’ve ever been around so much livestock activity. And every year, I learn a great deal from being in the presence of the animals and the people involved.

Especially the judges. I honestly never get tired of hearing a trained judge talk about what makes one Flemish Giant rabbit better than another, why one Babydoll Southdown sheep’s shape makes it superior to its opponents, or how a contestant might make their steer more ribbon-worthy before bringing it back next year.

While the judges get my attention every year, I found this year’s collection put together by the Texas County Fair Board to be particularly informative and enjoyable.

One of my favorite things about every fair is the rabbit show on day one. This year, Kacie Ann Mitchell (of Seymour) made it even more fun than normal with they way she was able to convey her vast knowledge through understandable words. Basically, bunny banter was a blast.

The same goes for goat and sheep judge Kash Allen (of Bunch, Okla.). He presented easy to grasp explanations of how and why he arrived at decisions, and made his segments of the fair a good time for all.

Pig and cattle judge Jade Jenkins is so good she’s the animal science instructor at Eastern Oklahoma State College (in Wilburton, Okla.). Not only that, she coaches the school’s livestock judging team.

Yep, colleges have livestock judging teams. Now, I’ve never seen a college livestock judging competition, but I’m guessing it would be fascinating to watch aspiring judges try to win one for their squad. Something I wonder: How are points scored in a judging match? I’m sure the judges who judge the judges know.

And after a great judging performance, does a guy or gal return to their bench and get high fives from their teammates?

And who knew there could be so much to know about a chicken? Experienced poultry judge Dalton Connall does, that’s for sure. I loved watching him get up close and personal with many a young participant, and the looks on the kids’ faces made it clear he was getting through to them.

And speaking of the fair board, I’d like to repeat something I’ve said many times before: These volunteers do a remarkable job of preparing the grounds and organizing what always turns out to be a truly wonderful event. It’s a titanic undertaking, and the people who make it happen are an unusually dedicated and passionate bunch.

Meanwhile, the chamber managed to not only put the OSR back to the same week as the fair, but organize one of the better ones in several years.

The highlight was, of course, the concert in the arena put on by popular Christian rock band, Hawk Nelson. What I think is coolest about the band’s appearance in Houston is what chamber executive director Angie Quinlan (who was highly instrumental in securing the show) said its members were truly great guys.

She said they were humble, funny and basically a pleasure to be around. And more than one person I heard from who saw the show said they were extremely talented.

And speaking of volunteers, the chamber board and several other people did exemplary work staging not only the concert, but the ATV Rodeo and Pony Pull events on the other two nights of the OSR. And, of course, you have many other people helping run cook shacks and perform other tasks, and without them, the whole thing would suffer.

And how about that great carnival? Based on what was going at the midway on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, I’d say the folks from Southern Fun Carnival had some good ol’ South-central Missouri Fun during their stay in Houston. I’d also say they likely had enough financial fun that they’ll be glad to come back if invited.

The bottom line is, the week provided its usual good stuff, and the county is better for having such a set of events.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.


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