Burnet County Area Fair is currently working hard to provide a family fun event for citizens of Burnet and surrounding counties. The Burnet Area County Fair is a nonprofit organization. We have members representing some of our sponsors as well as members of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension of Burnet County, Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association, the Texas Extension Education Association of Burnet County, the Bluebonnet Button Club, and the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild.
Burnet County Area Fair
The Fair Board of Directors is working hard to make this year's Fair an excellent one. Our roots are in Burnet County and with their leadership and dedication, we anticipate another outstanding Fair.
We will continue to pay cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. Cash prizes will also be paid to the winners of the Sweepstakes Awards. These popular awards will be given to an exhibitor in each age group who enters exhibits in three or more divisions and earns the most points. An additional award has been added - the "People's Choice" award, to be voted on by visitors to the Fair. All awards will be announced at a special ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Friday evening at the Burnet County AgriLife Auditorium.
We will also have vendors on Saturday along with other fun events. Our theme this year is "Country Roots and Cowboy Boots". We look forward to all the wonderful exhibits our participants will enter. As in the past, there is no charge to enter, and we invite citizens from Burnet, Bell, Blanco, Lampasas, Llano, Travis and Williamson Counties to enter. Our divisions include Aprons, Arts and Crafts, Baked Goods, Buttons, Clothing, Creative Writing, Fine Arts (including Porcelain Arts), Ice Cream Crank-Off, Jewelry, Metal Arts, Needlework, Patriotism, Photography, Potted Plants and Flowers, Preserved Foods, Quilting, Storyboard Display, Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, Eggs, and Woodworking.
We will continue to update the Schedule of Events as things change so please check back. The Rules for Exhibition for 2023 will be posted on the website. The Rules for Exhibition will also be available upon request at the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension office of Burnet County and Burnet Farmers Market, which opens on May 1st. The Vendor Information and Contracts will be updated and available by clicking on Vendor Info on the Homepage.
The History of the Fair
The first Burnet County Fair was held in 1903 in the community of Bertram at the site of what is now the city's baseball field. The fair was held annually in August, and lasted for three days. By 1910, the fairgrounds featured a large wooden grandstand and by 1928, over 6,000 people were in attendance at the festivities.
According to Burnet County History, Volume 1, "agricultural exhibits and competitions included sheep, goats, cattle, horses, mules, jacks, poultry, hogs, and produce from the farmers' fields and gardens. Textiles, culinary (baked goods), preserves, and canned goods and flowers made up the Women's Division, though all might participate. Bands from neighboring towns came in to play on different days. There were also speeches by politicians and baseball games were played every day. There was also a baby contest, a fiddlers' contest, and a carnival."
Highlighting the fair were trot and pace horse races. In 1928, 24 horses competed for $1,130 in prize money. A parade featuring "decorated floats and pretty girls" (Bertram Centennial Celebration, 1882 - 1982) was also an attraction of the fair in its early days.
The Burnet County Fair continued to be held in Bertram until the late 1930s, after which time the fair moved to the city of Burnet, the county seat. Carole Goble, author of a history of the area entitled Burnet, noted that while she had not been able to document the reason why the fair was moved, she remembers that the property in Bertram on which the fairgrounds were located was sold and that some homes were built there, with the area being called the Fairground Addition. The remaining property was later used by the Bertram Schools, becoming the site of the city's sports fields, including football and baseball. It is now the J.O. "Chief" Wilson baseball complex.
Goble stated that beginning in the 1940s and continuing until 1967, the Burnet County Fair's livestock exhibits were held on the Burnet town square, while all other exhibits were held in a variety of available buildings, including the school cafeteria and the VFW hall.
In 1960, a group of citizens started working to establish a permanent home for the Burnet County Fair. Land near the airport was donated for the fairgrounds by the City of Burnet and Houston Clinton. Eventually, a $68,000 loan was obtained from the Farmers Home Administration to erect the facility that is being used today. In 1965, the fair association and the rodeo association merged to form the Burnet County Fair and Rodeo Association. In 1967, the Burnet County Fairgrounds were opened at Houston Clinton Drive in Burnet and the fair began to be held there.
In 1990, the fair ceased to operate due to a lack of manpower. The Burnet Fair & Rodeo Association simply didn't have the capacity to handle both events and the rodeo continued on separately.
In 2010, the Highland Lakes Master Gardener Association, Texas Extension Education Association of Burnet County, and Burnet County AgriLIFE Extension joined forces with the Burnet Fair & Rodeo Association to bring back the fair. Since 2010 with the help of our sponsors and friends the Burnet County Area Fair has grown by leaps and bounds. Because of this growth other organizations have joined our forces. They include the Highland Lakes Quilt Guild and Bluebonnet Button Club. With this increased support and participation the fair moved to the Burnet Community Center in 2014. Starting in 2021 we hosted the Fair at the Burnet County AgriLife Extension Auditorium and BCISD Gym and Pavilion next door. The address is now 607 N. Vandeveer St., Burnet, TX.
Burnet County Area Fair, Inc. gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Carole Goble in preparing this information. Her book, Burnet, can be purchased at various local businesses and on Amazon.com, and can also be found at the Herman Brown Free Library.