Carl Anderson wears two hats these days — one as general manager of Bill Utter Ford in Denton and the other as president of the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo Association.
And now he’s sporting a new hat — a cowboy hat, just in time for the opening of this year’s annual fair and rodeo at the North Texas State Fairgrounds off North Carroll Boulevard.
A longtime volunteer, Anderson recalls a childhood spent at the fairgrounds. It was an exciting time for a 6-year-old boy, growing up about a half mile from the fair, to see the activity nearby and know the promise it brought.
“Mom would walk my brother and me out here,” Anderson recalled.
That excitement is still with him 52 years later.
“There’s something for everyone out here,” he says. “One of the most spectacular parts of the fair is the day before, when you see it all come together.”
Then, on opening day, the Ferris wheel turns and the pigs snort as they are prepped for competition. The framed photographs look bright and shiny alongside jars of homemade jam and fresh fruit pies, not to mention those carefully stitched handmade quilts.
Every year, something new comes along, whether it’s a shark exhibit, trout fishing or trained tigers. Then there are the requisite horseshoe playoffs and tractor pull. Kid zones bring petting zoos, bounce houses and pony rides, while an automotive exhibit attracts car enthusiasts.
Don’t forget the princess and queen competitions, the parade or the popular mutton bustin’ rodeo events for the younger crowd.
Then there’s the rodeo, with its bucking bulls and broncs, rodeo clowns and daring riders.
Add some tasty treats and a lineup of boot-scootin’ music, and it’s the annual county fair in Denton.
“With this fair, we see 150,000 people and take in over $1 million in nine days,” Anderson says.
Sitting on the fair association board for years, Anderson first served as secretary in 1995. In the years since, he’s seen the fair grow under the leadership of Ken Burdick, a good friend who died several years ago, and Glenn Carlton, now at the helm.
Burdick doubled revenue to $800,000 during his tenure, Anderson says. “Last year, we took in $1.4 million as a fair association for the entire year.”
Behind the scenes are the many volunteers who make the event possible — about 500 people take off and spend almost the entire time at the fair, including some who bring trailers for a 24-hour stay.
“That’s what makes it so much fun — to see how this thing comes together,” Anderson said. “It’s a passion for some people.”
It’s a passion for him as well, a mover and shaker behind the scenes who gives all the credit to others.
“This fair would not be anywhere close to what it is without our sponsors, volunteers and unbelievable people who come out every year,” Anderson says. “It’s a whole package. … I give all the credit to them.”
DAWN COBB can be reached at 940-566-6879. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .