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Heart of the Hill Country: Blanco County Fair and Rodeo

The local fair and rodeo is a small-town tradition, fun for the whole family

Some places are just different — there’s a brightness to them, an energy, and they have the power to bring together people of all ages and all walks of life. They’re the lifeblood of our region, and over the year, we’ll be highlighting some of these special places across our service area. We’re calling them Hearts of the Hill Country — because when we’re there, we’re community.

Since 1930, the Blanco County Fair & Rodeo has been drawing Central Texans to Johnson City each August. From roping, showmanship and mutton busting to a queens contest, carnival rides, livestock shows, a main street parade and late night dance, the event is fun for all ages, said Tim Nance, director of Blanco County Fair & Rodeo Association and PEC director of member relations.

“When you live in a small town, it means a lot to get together with your family and your friends,” Nance said. “It’s the time of year you come back home and bring your family to enjoy the rodeo. It’s just really important to carry on tradition.”

Even as it entertains the community, the Blanco County Fair & Rodeo strengthens it, too, and not just because it’s a great place to socialize. The event offers a scholarship to the winner of the queens contest, and all its fees and admission costs go directly into funding a bigger and better event year after year. It’s part of the rodeo’s philosophy of giving back to the community, Nance said.

President of Blanco County Fair & Rodeo Association Chris Liesmann has been involved with the rodeo for more than 10 years, and now more than ever, he’s made it his mission as president to continue this Johnson City tradition at the lowest cost possible for attendees.

“My goal as president was to make sure it was an affordable event for families to come out and bring their kids for little or no cost,” Leismann said. “The families and the people that have graduated here throughout the years come down here during this event from all over. And they will always come back to the fair and rodeo and bring their kids to make memories that are going to last forever.”

For Johnson City natives and PEC members Garrett and Tatum Craig, the rodeo has always been a part of their lives. Both of their extended families have volunteered in multiple events over the years, and now even their children get to experience the magic of the rodeo.

“I just really enjoy seeing all of our friends,” Garrett Craig said. “It’s almost like a family reunion to us. It’s generational, and it’s really fun to watch our kids experience this.”

“We look forward to it every year and put it on the calendar,” Tatum Craig said. “We’re always excited to come to all of it.”

And that’s what the Blanco County Fair & Rodeo is really all about: bringing families and the community together to maintain this small-town Hill Country tradition for generations to come.

“The rodeo is important to our community because we want to see the traditions of our ancestors carry forward,” Nance said. “We want people to know where we came from and know our roots. It’s just a great place to enjoy family and come back home.”