Jean Therriault’s children screamed in joy and smiled wide as they rocketed around in a Tilt-A-Whirl Sunday afternoon, as if it was their first time attending the Fort Bend County Fair and Rodeo.
In reality, they’ve have been going for more than a decade in what has become a family tradition since they moved to Sugar Land almost 20 years ago. But the allure hasn’t worn off.
“They still look forward to it every year, and it’s always an awesome time,” Therriault said.
Therriault has made the roughly 12-mile drive from her home in Sugar Land to the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds in Rosenberg with her now-teenage children every year for nearly two decades. She and her kids were among thousands of residents from around the area who made their way out to the Fort Bend County Fair and Rodeo, which was held from Sept. 27-Oct. 6.
It has long created lasting memories for county residents such as the Therriaults, and this year’s trip was more of the same.
“Riding the rides and eating the food, and having a day where the kids are having a blast is the best part of it,” said
Therriault, whose children are ages 14, 16 and 18. “They can just get a wristband and ride. They don’t have to hear me say, ‘No, it’s too expensive,’ and ride as many as they want to until they drop.”
In addition to the fun and fanfare that accompanies it, the event’s roots are planted in youth education, which has been a driving force in the fair’s activities since it began in 1933. The development of a scholarship program in 1979 has provided deserving Fort Bend County students with scholarships to Texas colleges and universities since its inception. According to the fair’s website, it has awarded more than 800 scholarships to date.
“I just cannot give enough thanks to all the buyers, bidders and sponsors. Once again we were able to help the youth of our county to continue their educational goals,” 2019 Fair President Marjie Pollard said. “This is what our fair is about and I could not be more proud.”
This year’s event also generated more than $620,000 through the Junior Livestock Auction, commercial heifer auction, Freezer Sale and art auction for youth exhibitors.
“My favorite part is seeing the community come together. It’s a universal event that brings in people from all walks of life – farming agriculture, families enjoying a night out,” said Richmond resident and Hubenak Elementary principal Ernie Bainbridge, who was attending the fair for the second time. “It’s a good mix of backgrounds that get to enjoy it and have the opportunity to do this close to a big city.”
So whether it’s about trying to win a stuffed animal from the carnival, chowing down on all the fried food or hurtling through the air, Therriault said her family tradition will continue for years to come.
“Now that they’re older, they don’t want to do much with me,” she said with a laugh. “But when I mention the fair, they’re all on board and they all want to come.”