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126th Annual Comal County Fair in New Braunfels: History and Highlights

Posted by Vintage Oaks
11.13.19

Topics: living in new braunfels, vintage oaks neighborhood news and events

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The largest county fair in Central Texas each year is the Comal County Fair and Rodeo, a staple of the San Antonio culture for 126 years. This year, thousands of visitors from all over Texas and beyond visited the Comal County Fairgrounds for family-friendly fun, carnival rides, great food, and much more. If you couldn’t make the festivities this year, the highlights from 2019’s 126th annual Comal County Fair should inspire you to make plans to attend next year.

History of the Comal County Fair

The Comal County Fair has roots tracing back to the late 1800s, when German settlers in the area arranged their first county fair, complete with trains running from San Antonio and Austin to bring visitors to enjoy the festivities. The Krankenhaus (the German name for “hospital”) in the area held a successful fundraiser and the local government gave the first New Braunfels county fair the green light, marking the beginning of a tradition that would last more than a century.

On January 4, 1893, the Comal County Fair Association held its first formal meeting and announced a $10,000 fundraising effort by selling shares to the public. Harry Landa, a successful and influential local businessman, acted as the chairperson of the Comal County Fair Association and hosted the first Comal County Fair on his own property. Unfortunately, serious drought conditions caused the Association to cancel the fair planned for the fall of 1893 and postpone it until the following year. Landa’s pasture became the site of the Comal County Fair from 1894 until 1899.

Following the 1898 Comal County Fair, the Comal County Fair Association purchased an 11-acre plot of land along the Guadalupe River in Comaltown, followed by more purchases in the next month. More than 600 residents purchased shares at $2 per share to fund the 1899 fair. The Association arranged for the clearing of land for a racetrack and a 60’x40’ dance floor. Unfortunately, the Comal County Fair Association ran into financial trouble, eventually selling the property to the City of New Braunfels in 1905. The Comal County Fair Association included a provision that the City allow them to host the fair on the sold land for the next 50 years, and the city leadership agreed.

Despite those 50 years passing long ago, the Comal County Fair has taken place on these fairgrounds ever since, with a long pause between 1910 and 1922 when the City of New Braunfels used the fairgrounds as a dumping site. Eventually, the Comal County Fair Association incorporated into a company, selling shares to the locals for $10 each. The Fair also took a hit during the Great Depression before a stunning comeback in 1933, which locals hailed as a sign of better times on the horizon. In 1964, the Comal County Fair Association dissolved and became a nonprofit organization

Locals Prepare for the 126th Comal County Fair

Over the past century, the Comal County Fair has reflected the life and times of the people of New Braunfels, through World War II, the centennial celebration of the founding of New Braunfels, and a high-flying salute to patriotism following the 9-11 attacks. The people of New Braunfels love and cherish the memories made each year at the Comal County Fair.

Every year since 1908, local schools, city agencies, and county offices in the New Braunfels ISD and Comal ISD close for Comal County Fair Day. The gates of the Comal County Fairgrounds opened at 5pm on the evening of September 24 for Family Night. Over the years, the Comal County Fair has been a place to celebrate technology and innovation with spectacular displays, cultural events, sports, and contests. Although horse racing at the fair ended in 1990, the annual rodeo events still draw crowds.

2019 Highlights

The 126th Annual Comal County brought with it the 2019 BBQ Cook Off, a celebration of all things grilled and barbecued, and a perfect place to enjoy true Texas BBQ. Visitors also enjoyed the Livestock Show, handcrafts and woodworking displays and contests, countless games with prizes, and heritage events celebrating the history and people of New Braunfels. Every year, the Comal County Fair ends with a massive parade, traveling down Seguin Street in San Antonio to its destination at Landa Park Drive.

The Comal County Fair draws visitors from all over Texas and beyond. If you missed the 2019 Comal County Fair, be sure to make it a point to visit the 127th Annual Comal County Fair in 2020. If last year’s success is any indication, the 2020 celebration is sure to be a fantastic experience for visitors of all ages.

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For more information about land in the Hill Country, watch the video below.

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