The first-ever Ellis County Fair and Rodeo will ride into Waxahachie next weekend with live Texas county music concerts, a professional rodeo, carnival and over 500 students participating in the annual Ellis County Youth Expo.
The nine-day event, which adds on to the yearly FFA and 4H stock shows, will be held at the Ellis County Expo Center.
The gates open at 4 p.m. Friday, March 23 for the junior rodeo, local vendors, a souvenir shop and a beer garden. In the beer garden, patrons can enjoy a variety of adult beverages from ice-cold beer, adult snow cones and “mocktail,” which are wine-based cocktails. The junior rodeo begins at 6:30 p.m.
Following the junior rodeo, the Gary Lee Cox Band will open for headliner Preston Scott with the first tune played at 8:30 p.m. Texas country music lovers have the opportunity to hear Kody West open for Flatland Cavalry the following day at the same time.
“These are two very popular Texas country music performers who have a huge following and will attract a large crowd,” Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce President Sandy King said. “The Expo building is an intimate venue with a brand new sound system, so it will be a great show. VIP seating for the concert includes table seating in front of the stage, a waitress, and an extended drink menu so those will go fast.”
The gates close at midnight both nights.
Sixteen calf scrambles are planned for the three nights of rodeos, which include the junior rodeo on Friday and sanctioned United Professional Rodeo Association event on Saturday and Sunday.
Amber Huckabee, Ellis County Youth Expo livestock chair, said, “Each night they will release eight calves, so 16 kids [will participate]. Every kid that catches a calf puts a halter on it and takes it back to the middle of the rodeo arena will have won a $200 certificate.”
During each scramble, eight kids will wrangle a calf, meaning 24 participants have the opportunity to walk away a winner. This money is used to help the winner purchase a project to compete in the 2019 Ellis County Fair and Rodeo. A total of 24 kids will walk away with this certificate.
There’s plenty more to do on Saturday including kid activities such as bounce houses, rock wall, obstacle courses and selfies with alpacas. King mentioned there would also be chili and steak cook-offs “attracting some of the best chefs around competing for the top prize.”
Food trucks will be set up outside the stall area during the opening weekend, as well.
On Sunday, students can start moving their livestock into the stalls. Monday starts the opening ceremonies for the Ellis County Youth Expo livestock shows. There are 572 junior exhibitors with 941 entries, not including the creative arts.
The rabbit and chicken shows are from 6 p.m. — 8 p.m. The following livestock show schedule continues with the dairy goat show, lamb and goat show on Tuesday, swine show on Wednesday and the heifer and steers show on Friday. On Saturday, March 31 is the sale of champions where animals that made sale are auctioned off.
From Wednesday to Friday students will have a creative arts show, which includes arts, cooking, clothing; as well as the agriculture mechanics judging. On March 30, shop projects are judged; Huckabee said this is “anything from beds, trailers, or swings. You name it, and these kids build it.”
“These kids are incredibly talented in so many ways not just having a passion for raising livestock projects,” Huckabee elaborated. “We’ve got skilled welders, artists, bakers, and seamstresses. There are really so many things they get to showcase here.”
All animal projects will be stalled behind the building and rabbits and chickens come on the day of show. Weigh-in and classifying will take place in the stalling area as well, except for the breeding heifers and rabbits.
On the opening weekend, food trucks will be available parked by the stalls. The following days a concession stand will be open and run by the Waxahachie High School Culinary Department.
“We will have a traditional concession stand food, but each night we will have a special to correspond with whatever is being shown that night,” Huckabee explained.
Thursday night is “A Day in the Ring,” which is a livestock show for children with special needs. There are 180 participants. Huckabee said volunteers are double the number of students on this day and that the volunteers are students themselves.
During the opening weekend, March 23—25, adult passes are $10 a day and children under seven are $5. A three-day pass is available for $25 for adults and $10 for children. Parking is $5 on opening weekend.
Tickets for the Saturday night are $25. Starting March 26, entry is free for the livestock show and carnival. The carnival will be open from Wednesday, March 28 through March 31.
For more information on vendors or participating in kid activities, visit the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce website, waxahachiechamber.com.
Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450