The 117th annual West Texas Fair and Rodeo returns to the Taylor County Expo Center Thursday through Sept. 19.
The fair includes several carnival rides, a beauty pageant, a petting zoo, concession stands, concerts and exhibits for events including everything from livestock shows to calligraphy. Locals can submit their own artwork and food to be judged in contests in which the winner receives a blue ribbon and bragging rights. The fair is set to close Sept. 19 with a concert by Texas country artist Jack Ingram at 9:30 p.m. at the HEB Entertainment Pavilion.
“My favorite part is the live music at night,” said Ashlyn Stewart, junior graphic design major from Abilene. “I think it does bring the community together in a fun way because it’s something that only happens once a year, and so lots of people have made it an annual tradition to attend.”
Gates will be open daily from 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Weekday admission is $8 for adults and $4 for students, while weekend admission is $11 for adults and $4 for students. Prices for the rides range from $1 for single tickets to $30 for a daily carnival armband.
“I’ll probably attend on one of the nights it’s cheaper to get in, even if it’s just to walk around and get dinner for a couple of hours,” Stewart said.
Free admission into the fairgrounds will be available for students Friday. The Sneak-A-Peak preview was set to take place Thursday, though no exhibit buildings were scheduled to be open. College student day takes place Friday and allows college students free admission as long as they show a current college ID. Events for this day include the Queen’s Horsemanship Contest at 6 p.m. and a Freeride concert at 8:30 p.m., plus access to all the carnival rides and fair food.
Crysta Cook, junior history education major and Abilene native, went to the fair several times as a kid and said her favorite part is the food, especially the funnel cakes and lemonade.
Other notable events include the parade through downtown Abilene at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and the rodeo at 7:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Sept. 19.
For a complete list of times and events, visit the Expo Center’s website at www.taylorcountyexpocenter.com.