Here is how it all began...enjoy this story from 1975...
The Huntsville Item View Points,
Tuesday, October 7, 1975
Festival Turns Out Just Great
The Huntsville community festival on the first Saturday before the Texas Prison Rodeo was a big success.
The festival, arts show and flea market drew large crowds. At 9 a.m. Saturday, an hour before the booths were scheduled to open, 400 to 500 persons were already on the square.
It was like that all day, with the largest crowds coming between 11a.m. and 2 p.m.
All of the booths were interesting, and it looked like most of them did a brisk trade all day long.
The events went off very well, from the Junior Service League’s Little Miss Rodeo Queen and Little Mister Rodeo King contest to the free street dance that night featuring David and the Diamonds Saturday night which drew an estimated 1,500 persons.
Officials involved in the community promotion were elated at the success of this first effort, and hopefully, it helped the first day of the prison rodeo too. Rodeo officials reported that a crowd of about 16,000 witnessed the opening day performance – well ahead of a usual opening Saturday crowd.
Now it has been demonstrated that this is an idea that will work. A festival on the Saturday before the rodeos can help the prison and it can help the community.
Huntsville –Walker County Chamber of Commerce officials are now planning to evaluate what occurred.
If everyone is as happy as it appears they should be, perhaps this community could start planning much earlier for next year. Why not have something festive going every Saturday before the Sunday prison rodeos?
Authors note: The Fair on the Square was an opportunity to boost attendance and tourism in the town prior to the rodeo each year. The rodeo, held on Sunday afternoons, gave officials the perfect opportunity to kick off the event on the Saturday prior. According to the Texas State Historical Association website, the Texas Prison Rodeo began in 1936. Engineers were forced to condemn the stadium at the end of 1986 due to structural problems. An attempt was made to raise half a million dollars for renovations but the attempt was unsuccessful resulting in prison officials ending the proud tradition of "outlaw meets outlaw" in the dusty ring behind "The Walls. However, before the rodeo was suspended indefinitely, it grossed $450,000 from an estimated 50,000 fans.