The bright neon lights of amusement park rides lit up the night sky in Clarksville, as dozens of smiling children got on and off the merry-go-round, ferris wheel and more. It could only mean one thing — the Red River County Fair was in town.
The fair, which is in town from from Wednesday through today, featured several livestock shows, carnival rides and games, food options, musical entertainment and more.
“I’d say the fair is one of the best things the county has,” County Judge L.D. Williamson said. “It’s a sort of homecoming.”
For many, including annual festival-goers Bill and Linda Bryson, the festival is just that — a chance to reconnect with old friends.
“There are a lot of people that I don’t see too much anymore, but I still see them here,” Bill Bryson said. “It lets us catch up and see what they’ve been up to. And I think that’s really special.”
The Brysons also love the fair for its many livestock shows throughout the week. Heifers, rabbits, pigs and more were on display during the fair, drawing FFA teams from across the region to compete.
“You had teams from Rivercrest, Avery, here in Clarksville, you name it,” Bill Bryson said. “A lot of times their competitions are really spread out, but this brings them all here together.”
Kenny Swinford, an ag science teacher and FFA coach for Rivercrest ISD, said the fair is one of the highlights of the year for him and the team.
“We participated in every show this year,” Swinford said. “I’m proud of my students for all the hard work they put into this.”
Swinford said that since he spent so much time in the livestock area of the festival, he didn’t get much of an opportunity to experience many of the other activities the fair had to offer. However, Swinford said he did also enjoy the many food options the fair provided.
First-time attendee Brent Moore said seeing all the animals and learning about them was his favorite part of the week.
“I liked the animals,” he said. “I’m trying to raise some cattle and I don’t really know what I’m doing, but a lot of these people know what they’re doing. I’m definitely going to come back again next year.”
On Friday, not even heavy rain throughout the day could keep eager festivalgoers away.
“Oh yeah, it seems like it rains every year,” Swinford said. “It’s pretty much a tradition to get rain during the fair. And it never seems to keep people away.”
The fair has been an annual tradition for decades, and for many, the event is at the heart of countless cherished moments.
“I’ve been coming since I was a little kid,” said Damien Carrasco. “I was probably running around the pig pens when I was two years old.”
As he grew older, the fair took on new significance for Carrasco, and he now looks forward to it as a chance to bond with his daughter. For him and his daughter, a ride on the ferris wheel has become an annual tradition.
This year, Carrasco also spent time in the dunk tan, as part of the Clarksville Volunteer Fire Department. The money raised from the dunk tank will go towards purchasing equipment for the department, though Carrasco said he isn’t yet sure how much was raised.
“That was probably my favorite part of the fair this year,” Carrasco said. “I had a blast.
“This fair is a really great thing for Clarksville and the county. People don’t get to experience an event like this as often as they think they do, because it isn’t small per se, but it’s tight knit in a way that I think is really special.”