Gillespie County Fair
Always held during the hottest part of the summer, the Gillespie County Fair is the oldest, continuously running fair in Texas. Maintaining the strong, traditionally rural roots of the German farming community around Fredericksburg in the Hill Country of Texas, the fair features live horse races, professional bull riding, produce and craft judging, mutton busting, carnival rides, a boisterous midway, and live country music.
The Gillespie County Fair is also, in many ways, a microcosm of the Fredericksburg community as it undergoes the transition from a rock-rimmed agricultural community to a charming, new age tourist destination. The Gillespie County Fair provides the seething backdrop for two intermarried families and a land development scheme that exposes the vicious underbelly of this pastoral community, leads to the demise of two pioneer families, and culminates the triumph of one hard-headed young girl.
wants to come home but…
“To Max, the fairgrounds seemed flattened against the land and stretched-out in the nighttime. Ever since he was a kid, he saw it that way. The rolling hills disappeared into the dark edges of the night, while the electric lights and skeleton frames of the amusement rides pushed their way up into the soft tissues of the fading light, cranking themselves upward toward the streaks of soft reds and pinks, all that was left of the daytime. As the evening pulled away, the whoops and hollers of the fair riders rolled like a breaking wave over the clamor of the midway barkers and the whiff of deep-fried carnival food.”
wants to own the town but…
“Across the fairgrounds, the Ferris wheel spun its way through the night sky and the screams from the Tilt-A-Whirl swelled and ebbed in the background. Between the midway and the bandstand, Carel Geische stumbled his way down the darkened steps of the grandstands, grabbing at the handrails for balance. Off in the distance he heard the band start up. The liquor was long gone and, with some difficulty, he rose to his feet, knowing that there was something more he had to do. Action was his way. Carel moved forward off the stairway and came upon the blur of cowboy shirts and halter tops milling about the beer stands and the funnel cake booths; loud talk and laughter and a lot of cowboy hats—his people…his town. He was losing everything here. It was being stolen by all those outsiders.”
wants out but…
“From the side facing the neighborhood, their buildings looked like any other old German farmstead in Gillespie County; solid and practical with a knot of outbuildings set back off the road behind five short rows of Freestone peach trees. On the backside of the house, a treeless pasture fell away from a long porch and rolled easily under the occasional hooves of black-headed Dorpers—all the way to the rocky bottom of Palo Alto Creek where the barefoot days of so many summers had slipped carelessly through the tender fingers of Willow’s childhood.”