By Rachel Knight
Whether you are driving along Hwy. 6 or winding through back roads, as you travel to Brazos County, you’re sure to see two things: advertisements for Texas A&M University, and the rich agricultural roots entwined in the cities of Bryan and College Station. The influence of the university and agriculture help shape the culture of the Brazos Valley that is celebrated at the Brazos Valley Fair and Rodeo.
At the center of the Brazos Valley, the cities of Bryan and College Station make up the largest urban gathering place for folks from Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Milam, Robertson, and Washington counties. Since 2012, the Brazos Valley Fair and Rodeo has provided a reason to gather for a weekend full of concerts, rodeos, livestock shows, art shows, carnival rides, interactive agricultural exhibits, shopping, and more.
This year the BVFR will take place Oct. 20 to 22 at the Brazos County Expo Complex. According to Fiona Meyer, senior manager of the BVFR, the BVFR experience provides more bang for your buck, and she doesn’t mean just buckin’ bulls.
“It’s a great time to spend time with your friends and your family,” Meyer says. “It’s doing something fun. You’re not on your devices, other than taking pictures. It’s just a fun time to really have something to interact with your kids and have something to do that’s really fun.”
Concerts headlined by Kevin Fowler on Friday, Sabrina Carpenter on Saturday, and La Energia Nortena on Sunday will add to the fun each evening. During the day, Canine Stars, The Pirate’s Parrot Show, The Magic Bean Show, and Swifty Swine Pig Races will take place throughout the day, and are expected to be favorites of cowboys and cowgirls of all ages.
Opportunities for children to interact with various parts of agriculture are seemingly endless in the AgLand Kid Zone at the BVFR. This is done by design according to Meyer, but not for the reasons you might think. When Meyer’s family would spend four to 10 days at livestock shows, her children would often run out of affordable things to do while waiting for their next event.
“That was one of the things I really wanted to do,” Meyer says. “That’s why the only thing that costs extra in that area is the mechanical bull. Other than that, it’s kind of a free for all.”
In the past, the BVFR has fallen on a Texas A&M football game weekend, and a tailgate area has been set up to watch the game. The 2017 BVFR is on Texas A&M’s open week. As a result, an AgRobotics contest will be held in place of the tailgate on Saturday. Texas 4-H members will design, build, and test their robots in this contest, which is open to the public.
While providing entertaining adventures through interactive agricultural experiences to its visitors, the BVFR also supplies a way to give back to local nonprofit organizations and Brazos Valley high school students planning to further their education.
According to Meyer, it takes 300 to 325 volunteers to run the BVFR. When nonprofits volunteer as groups, the BVFR donates $5 per volunteer per hour to their organization.
“They can make money with [their volunteer hours], and it’s anywhere from $40 to $700 depending on how many volunteers they have come out,” Meyer said.
This will be the first year that BVFR’s general scholarships are presented live at the fair. Since the BVFR began, the organization has awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships to qualified youth, according the BVFR website. Two $1,500 general scholarships will be presented this year, and increased scholarship amounts will be awarded through the BVFR junior livestock show this year.
With so much to see, do, and experience at the 2017 BVFR there is something for the cowboy or cowgirl in everyone.
“The biggest reason it is important is for what it contributes back to our community,” Meyer says. “Not just the scholarships, but also the experiences that it gives the kids and the volunteers. It’s just good for our community.”
The BVFR will be open Friday 4pm to midnight, Saturday 10am to midnight, and Sunday 10am to 10pm. Early Bird prices until Oct. 15 on general admission tickets are $10 on Friday, $18 on Saturday, and $10 on Sunday. Tickets may also be purchased at the gate for $12 Friday, $25 Saturday, and $12 Sunday. VIP rodeo seating tickets are available for $10 each day. One-day unlimited carnival ride wristbands can be purchased for $20 until Oct. 15; after Oct. 15 they are $25. For more information and to order tickets visit www.brazosvalleyfair.com or call (979) 821-1450.