Local festivals and fairs have had a rough year. 2020 had them all cancelled, and getting the support and participation that they needed for 2021 has been a challenge. With so much uncertainty in the world, we wanted to take one of the area’s favorite events, the Kendall County Fair, and shine the spotlight on them in the hopes that the residents and visitors will do what they can to support such a great event, even if their support is simply going and enjoy the event.
Below you will find a history of the Kendall County Fair, just so some of you newer folks might get a good idea about the origins for the event, and then a quick Q/A with one of the Directors bringing us up to speed for this year’s event!
The first Kendall County Fair was held in Boerne, Texas in 1905. Communication was very limited so it was imperative that a central meeting be held at least annually so the people of the area would have a chance to exchange ideas, recipes and news of events. Thus was born the idea of the county fair and the people of the county gathered together in the “Opera House” located in downtown Boerne to hold the first Kendall County Fair on September 4, 1905.
On March 14, 1913, the citizens of Kendall County gathered for a called mass meeting for the purpose of organizing a Kendall County Fair Association. On July 1, 1913, the corporation charter was granted and the newly formed Kendall County Fair Association was presented an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by The Ferdinand Ludwig Von Herff Family. Fifty Five acres of land was deeded to the association from the Herff Family extensive holdings east of town for the association to hold a yearly fair and erect buildings to house the event. In order to ensure the continuation of the Fair for those generations that followed the deed also forbade the sale of the property and provided that if the Fair were not held that the land would revert to the city of Boerne.
H.O. Adler was the first president elected and Miss Martha Fabra (Mrs.E.P.Heye) was appointed first lady manager. Miss Bonnie Lee Kemp (Mrs. Carl H. Molberg) was the first Kendall County Fair Queen selected in 1949. The Kendall County Fair Association governing board now consists of twenty one active voting director members. The association is honored to have senior directors of whom have served nine or plus years as a director. As of 2020, fifteen of the Senior Directors served a reign as President during their term as a director. The association has over 2,500 life time members.
Beautiful Herff Park, located at 1307 River Road is the home of the Kendall County Fair. The fifty-five acre park is studded with live oak trees, which make an ideal setting for the annual Labor-Day week-end fair. The Kendall County Fair Association’s “Oma’s Christmas Fair” is held at the fairgrounds annually the first week-end in December. This year, 2021 Oma’s Christmas Fair will celebrate 37 years. The facilities are utilized by both commercial and community organization as well as private parties to host their events both large and small.
The Kendall County Fair has been held annually (Except during the war years when it was supplanted by one or more livestock shows each year and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) The purpose of the annual fair is to display the best agriculture products and livestock from Kendall County and the surrounding hill country area. It’s purpose is educational and it’s main objective is to encourage and develop farming and ranching in line with modern development as an educational and social institution. The Kendall County Fair offers its patrons a real opportunity to participate in the benefits offered. The Association is a 501(c)3 Non-profit with officers and directors serving without remuneration. Any and all profits from the various activities held are used to further the interest of the association and for improving properties and the grounds. This year, 2021, the Kendall County Fair will celebrate 115 Years.
The officials of the association would like to this opportunity to “WELCOME” area citizens and visitors alike to the fair. The fair would not be possible without the support of Kendall County and the surrounding area. As we are reminded of our past and look to the future, we welcome your comments and suggestions and hope that you will help us make this annual event enjoyable and memorable for everyone attending. We cannot do this alone; we need you and your support to continue our main purpose and objectives for the younger generations to come.
We asked Patti McCreless, Treasurer, Advertising, &
Kendall County Fair’s Kids Coordinator a few questions:
The Fair was cancelled last year due to COVID. How hard was that decision?
Cancelling the fair did not come easy by any means. It was the hardest decision our board has ever faced. It completely broke our hearts and created a sadness in each of us to have to call it but we knew our first priority had to be the safety of the community. We research everything and looked at every angle to see how we could pull it off and keep everyone safe, there just wasn’t a way. The fair had not been cancelled since World War II. Making the announcement was gut wrenching.
The pandemic hit us really hard. We not only did we have to cancel the fair but every event we hold through out the year had to be cancelled as well as our rental facilities had to be shut down. We are non-profit and 100% volunteer ran. The funding we bring in from our events and sponsors allow us to keep our 55 acres maintained, allow us to give back to the community and fund our scholarship programs.
What has your team been working on in the past year?
Our KCFA team has been hard at work planning the 115th Kendall County Fair. We definitely knew we were going to have challenges ahead of us due to the fact that not only were we recovering for a complete year of shut down but so are all of our sponsors as well as our vendors, entertainers and carnival. Some business of them have completely gone out of business, downsized, and some that are struggling to get back on their feet. We are pushing forward and doing our very best to bring back the roots of the fair. Our board of Directors have dug in their heels and we are banding together as a team to make sure this fair happens. The fair is not only Kendall County tradition but part of our heritage that must continue. The blood, sweat, and tears of our directors and all that came before us gives us the drive to make sure we don’t let our fair be a distant memory. Generations to come we get to experience the joy of our fair.
How will the Fair look differently this year?
We definitely are having to to think outside the box this year. We have had our carnival downsize and cancel. We are working on finding an other one. We are going back to our roots a bit. We will have the staple of great entertainment all day and or exciting Lester Meier Rodeo in the evening. Of coarse our Exhibit hall will be full of prize winning baked goods, art, crafts, home grown veggies and plant as well as taxidermy. You will see some changes in categories and rules. We also added the Salsa contest, egg content contest and my favorite the apple pie contest to the exhibit hall. Much or our roots started right there in that hall. Our coarse will will also be hold our livestock show too. Goats, Lambs, Steers, and Poultry come from all over the state to be exhibited. We will have the lawnmower races and new this year the Dominguez Brothers Thrill show featuring the Globe of Death motorcycle act as well as an edge of your seat Ariel high wire act. We are bringing back our horseshoe and washer pitching tournament. We are adding some of the old fair games from our past like the wheel barrow races. We have had a great response from vendors and will have lots of opportunities for shopping and lots of yummy fair food. The fair may look a little different this year but will have something for everyone. We hope everyone will come out and experience a little bit of fair fun!
How has the community responded to the upcoming Fair?
Everyone seems to be really excited to see the fair back this year. We definitely are! We have so many new residents in Kendall County that have not had the opportunity to join in the fun! We are in the business of creating family fun memories that last a lifetime. My guess is if you ask anyone who grew up here they would have at least one if not many cherished memories of the fair. The Kendall County Fair has always been a type of homecoming for our locals. People move away but always plan to come home two times a year- Berges Fest and the fair. We were so sad to see Berges fest not be able to happen this year but we are understanding that is is really tough. We hope to see them back next year. The cancellation of Berges Fest mad e our board push even harder to make sure we put on a great fair for the community. Everyone needs some fun after last year.
How have the sponsorships gone this year?
Our fair is 100% funded by our gracious sponsors and 100 % ran by volunteer. We are spanning out within the community asking for sponsorship and volunteers. It has been somewhat of a challenge as most businesses and individuals alike are still recovering from being off with the pandemic. Every dollar helps. We have set up a way to donate online. Our Sponsorship team – Shane Boerner and Billy Shussler are custom building sponsorship packages to meet each ones needs to maximize every sponsor’s advertising exposure. There are so many opportunities for being seen at our fair. Typically we see about 35,000 people through our gates each year. We are hoping for more this year since everyone ahs been on lock down last year. Everyone seems excited to see the fair back. We definitely need sponsors and donations to help us out.
How can the community support you this year? (Besides just going to the fair)
There are a few ways the community can help us. The first is donations and sponsorships- no matter the amount. Whether is it is five dollars or five thousand dollars, we will put it to good use. Every dollar counts toward putting on a great fair. The second is volunteering. The entire fair depends on the hard work of our wonderful volunteers. We have a spot for everyone. Just 4 hrs of volunteering gets you a arm band for all weekend access! We also have a commemorative t-shirt on sale for a limited time to raise some extra funding plus tickets for the fair including a weekend pass are on sale online.
Looking forward, what are your goals for the Fair in years to come?
This year our fair celebrate 115 years. Our goal is to improve our fair every year and raise funds to be able to give more back to our community as well as upgrade our facilities. We have goals to air condition the halls and upgrade our restrooms. One of our many goals is to increase the programs such as the queen’s court scholarship program and our Homestead Heritage scholarship program. One thing I have not mentioned is our KC’s Kids program. We add it to our fair lineup in 2018. This program is just for the special needs children of Kendall County. Friday prior to the public, we hold a KC’s Kids Round Up. We bring in special needs children from across the county and put on a Fair just for them. This is not just any fair but one specially orchestrated just for them. So many of our special memories are lined with the Kendall County Fair and some of these children would never have been able to share that experience. We want to give back by creating cherished memories for our special kids that last a lifetime . In 2019 we also added a scholarship for these same kiddos.
The tradition of the fair is a true legacy, one the we as directors share with all of our fair patrons both young and old. We will fight to make it happen each year and with the help of the community , make improve it each year for generations to come. We are back and we are here to stay! It is positively time for Kendall County To Kick Up it’s Heels!