"As we Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Brazoria County Fair Association"
Back in 1910, several of Brazoria County’s civic leaders decided the area needed a forum for educating farmers and homemakers by recognizing those who were most outstanding in each area of endeavor. They visualized an event that would provide competition, entertainment, enjoyment, and an opportunity to get together with friends. They wanted to provide a standard of excellence toward which county residents could work, to encourage continued improvement of the equality of life in the area. Thus was born the first Brazoria County Fair.
Those early leaders would probably be astounded at the evolution of the fair since that first one in 1910. They could hardly have envisioned a 120 acre fairgrounds dotted with permanent buildings including a huge covered arena, the site of a multi-faceted, six- day annual event attracting almost a quarter of a million people.
History of the “modern” Brazoria County Fair begins in 1938, when Angleton Jaycees took over operation of several of the annual events. Although no fair organization officially existed that year, Jack Phillips of West Columbia recalls that “a little exhibition of livestock was held…and the ladies showed their jams and jellies” on the courthouse lot. Phillips, who has missed only one Brazoria County Fair since 1938 (until his death in ) – he was attending the Olympics in Mexico City during the 1968 fair – served as president of the fair in 1957, 1967, and 1968.
After formation of the Brazoria County Fat Stock and Fair Association, the group bought a 20-acre fig orchard south of Angleton for use as fairgrounds. By 1947, other 30-acres had been added to the site, and throughout the years, more land has been bought and paid out as it became available.
The fair was canceled for three years during World War II, and the property was leased to the U.S. government as the site for a U.S. Signal Corps radar unit. After a little more than a year, however, the government decided to utilize the facilities as a prisoner of war camp. A high fence topped with rows of barbed wire was placed around the property, with guard towers built at the corners. German war prisoners were moved to the site. At one time, 200 of Rommel’s crack North African Troops were among the prisoners housed there. Those who wanted to work for small wages, helped area farmers in cotton or rice harvesting and other chores, several of these former prisoners have visited Angleton in recent years, bringing their families to see where they were incarcerated and where they waded through muddy rice fields or stooped for hours to pick cotton.
With the war’s end, the grounds were returned to the fair association for use and in the years since, in good times and dab, in economic slumps and following devastating hurricanes, the fair has grown and expanded to the point that it is now the largest county fair in Texas. But despite its tremendous growth and changes, the Brazoria County Fair is still a place where residents from various parts of the county gather to compete in agricultural and homemaking and leisure-time pursuits, to recognize and encourage excellence, to visit friends, and to enjoy themselves in a family atmosphere. by Marie Beth Jones
The Brazoria County Fair Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities and scholarships to the youth of Brazoria County. Our Fair is a 9-day annual event that takes place in October of every year. It is known for its old-fashioned fair atmosphere and traditional fair entertainment such as carnival rides, rodeo, concerts, concessions and livestock/agriculture displays. The fair takes place in a 120-acre fairground covered with permanent buildings attracting about quarter of a million people.
Brazoria County Fair is a planned event that would provide competition, entertainment, enjoyment, and an opportunity for county residents and visitors to get together with friends. The fair provides people with a standard of excellence, which all county residents could work to achieve and to encourage the continued improvement of the equality of life in Brazoria County.
BCFA conducts several events throughout the year including our annual Science Fair in February, Youth Summer Series Rodeo in June, Spike & Spurs Golf Classic in August, Annual Kick-off dinner and dance is September and of course our Fair in October.
Today the Brazoria County Fair has approximately 2,000 members. There is a board of directors that total 99 and a 26 member executive board that oversee the different areas of the Fair. Today it takes more than 500 volunteers to keep the Fair Association operating.