Celebrity performances, out-of-country guests, picture contests and social media chats prove that while last month's North Texas Fair and Rodeo may be over officially, its effects are still ongoing and as far-reaching as to the nation even the globe. The 2014 North Texas Fair and Rodeo People's Choice Photo Contest is raging through September 14. The competition, which awarded daily prizes to top photos with specific hashtags posted to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, during the fair's run from Aug 15-23, will name a grand prize winner on September 15. Then judges will announce which of the top daily prize photo winners will receive top honors: a free four-day pass admitting two guests to next year's 2015 North Texas Fair and Rodeo to partake of festival activities and meet with their favorite entertainer.
Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau Communications Director Veronica Maldonado explained that the photo contest demonstrates the event's heavy reliance on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram for publicity. Maldonado described how the visitors bureau helped the fair gain that presence: “Our partnership with the fair is ongoing. We had feet on the ground, posting images,” of fair activity through, “festival social channels like Instagram and Pinterest.” In fact, Maldonado stated that the bureau helped event organizers, “start their own Instagram account.” She also pinpointed the heightened, “social media chatter and excitement over the rodeo and concerts.” Nanci Kimmey, assistant to the executive director of the North Texas State Fair Association that operates the fair and rodeo, confirmed the popularity of, “live shows and concerts among 18-35-year olds.” Meanwhile, Kimmey stated that, “rural families usually come for livestock shows and the fun and kid zones.” Certainly, social media users who attended any of the activities had a plethora of show choices from which to choose.
According to Kimmey, over 30 acts took the event stage at the 6, 9:30 and 11 p.m. evening slots. Some of the most popular chatter on social media channels, as expected, was over Grammy Award winning, country music artist Tracy Lawrence, who performed the final night. Other highly discussed performers were Kevin Fowler and the Randy Rogers Band. At the same time, Maldonado emphasized that rodeo-goers were able to choose from familiar favorites like Mutton Bustin' and the 21 and under rodeo for younger riders, and bull riding, on the fair's closing night. Maldonado also referenced other crowd-favored, social-media covered entertainment that included the T-N-T Dunking Team, a basketball stunt-performing group, and a shopper's zone which included a range of vendor items for sale including clothes, jewelry and home goods.
Kimmey gave insight into the work that fuels the nine-day event she says has won the Texas Association of Fair and Events for the last, "four of five years consecutively." Kimmey referred to the fair and rodeo which includes a kick-off parade, amusement rides, cook-offs, contests, exhibits, games, gifts, adult and youth livestock shows, concerts, pageants and a variety of entertainment, “is an enormous effort that we work on the entire year.” Kimmey stated that although the executive office does the majority of planning for the event, the execution of that plan is completed by, “Amazing volunteers, most of who take family vacations and time off from work during the fair, because they want the show to be a success as much as we do.” Kimmey explained that volunteers and their families have aided the North Texas Fair and Rodeo for years, building what she calls, “a generation of volunteers, loyal to the event.”
So how did all fare at the rodeo and fair? It may be too early to tell, but if Maldonado's assessment of high social media activity at the North Texas Fair and Rodeo pans out, 2014 attendance may break records. She reported that attendance on the final night was, “bursting at the seams,” and that final word will come after the Convention and Visitors Bureau gauges the number of hotel rooms, “which are usually full during the event.” Reported to draw more than 150,000 attendees annually, the North Texas Fair and Rodeo may have exceeded that number this year, drawing participants from other nations. Maldonado, reported that visitors as far away as “South Africa, Australia and Greenland,” flew in specifically to attend the event that has been held for over 85 years in Denton. For now, fair/rodeo visitors and the general public can reminisce by viewing hundreds of pictures shared over social media while awaiting the final announcement of whose pictures are memorable enough to win the grand prize passes to next year's fair and rodeo in 2015.