One of our favorite times of the year is here… It’s time for the Walker County Fair and Rodeo! We had a chance to sit down with our own Jeff Markham and pick his brain on all things Walker County Fair and Rodeo. He’s been involved for many years and in many ways with the Walker County Fair Association or the WCFA. Here’s what he had to say when we asked him some questions…
Could you give a brief history of the Walker County Fair and Rodeo?
Jeff: Prior to 1990 the Walker County Fair and Rodeo was an amateur rodeo. In 1990 Glen Reader, Rusty Davis and myself encouraged the fair association to become a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctioned event, which was approved. We three were the first co-chairmen of the inaugural event. We hired Bad Company Rodeo from Del Rio, Texas as our first professional stock contractor. At that time Bad Company Rodeo was at the cutting edge of rodeo innovations. They brought rock and roll music, mounted announcers, production and color to the event, not to mention top quality stock and equipment. After the first year of Pro-Rodeo I became the sole chairman for the next 9 years. Those subsequent rodeo committees added many site improvements to the rodeo arena and grounds, as well as added money to attract the top names in rodeo to our event. It was at this time we involved sponsorships to help with the financial aspects of production. The Walker County Fair and Rodeo has become one of the top outdoor rodeos in Texas and continues to be recognized, especially by the rodeo cowboys. Subsequent rodeo chairmen have been Kurt Stevenson, Byron Sandel, Kevin Green, Dan Brown, Cody McCaffety and current the chairman Jessie Johnson. Each chairman has been backed up by an outstanding group of people that form the rodeo committee, the backbone of this major undertaking.
How have you been involved with the Walker County Fair and Rodeo?
Jeff: We relocated our real estate business in the 1981 to Huntsville and Pam and I joined the fair association shortly after getting settled in Huntsville. We had been previously involved in the Montgomery County Fair Association, with our oldest son Kevin showing his first project in their 1980 fair. We knew that those involved with county fairs are citizens from every walk of life. And we wanted to get involved in a worthwhile event. Livestock and Rodeos have always been a primary interest of mine and I began in helping in those areas of the Walker County Fair. I became a vice-president of the WCFA in 1986 and served in that capacity for 6 years. During that time frame my duties were mainly the livestock shows, the BBQ cook off and the rodeo.
Who puts on the Rodeo?
Jeff: Currently the rodeo is produced by Stace Smith Pro Rodeos, this Texas rodeo company has been recognized as PRCA Producer of the Year many times and been the WCFA producer since 2003. They have top quality bucking stock, timed event cattle, production equipment and personnel. Their rodeos are action packed and continue in the original tradition of the beginning years of the WCFA first pro-rodeos. A real benefit to the timing of the WCFA Pro Rodeo comes from the fact that Rodeo Houston has just been completed, Rodeo Austin and Nacogdoches Pro-Rodeo are ongoing bringing the top rodeo contestants in the nation to our area. The rodeo is packed with the best of the best in each event.
How does it benefit the kids of Walker County?
Jeff: The whole purpose of the WCFA is as their motto states, “AN INVESTMENT IN YOUTH THROUGH COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT”. The rodeo is just one of the many money-making events enabling the fair association to produce the youth events and activities at fair time and throughout the year. During the fair hundreds of thousands of dollars are paid out to the youth of Walker County through the various youth project sales. Without the money-making ventures to support the association this would not be possible.
When is the Walker County Rodeo this year?
Jeff: The main performances of the 2019 rodeo will be Friday March 22nd and Saturday March 23rd at 7:00 pm. For the true rodeo die-hards, the slack events of Steer Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping and Tie Down Roping are being held in this order beginning at 9 am on Thursday March 21st. The slack for the Women’s Barrel Race will be held immediately following conclusion of above events, but not before 5 pm. You can see some of the top cowboys and top cowgirls in the nation competing.
For more information, tickets and updates on the Walker County Fair and Rodeo visit http://walkercountyfair.com or give them a follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/walkercountyfair/
We can’t wait to see you there!