Commentary

Depression, war limited Fair's activities

The "Great Depression, followed by World War II, was felt in small Texas towns. It limited many activities once enjoyed and one of those was the Rockdale Fair.

The Rockdale Fair began to dwindle down. Records do exist that the Rockdale's American Legion Post used the park for its annual July 4th celebrations and the Rockdale Homecoming and continued to hold events there in the 1920's through the 1940's.

As the economy picked up so did the need to begin the Rockdale Homecoming and the need for a place for family recreation.

Rockdale's American Legion Post was responsible for building several of the park's petrified wood concession stands.

They also enlarged the pavilion, adding a concrete ticket and drink booth to the east entrance.

Permanent restrooms were an added component of the park.

About this same time, the entrance to Fair Park, at the corner of Mill and Walnut Streets, received its formal designation.

Oil drill bits, graced the columns holding an archway w ith letter ing "FA IR PA R K" installed welcoming all to the fair grounds.

In the 1950's Alcoa located an aluminum smelter at Sandow and Texas Power & Light built three steam-generating turbines to furnish electric power needed by Alcoa in their aluminum production.

The plant went on line in late 1952 and held its formal grad opening in the spring of 1954. Gov. Allan Shivers was present at the dedication.

Both of these companies were good neighbors to Rockdale and Milam County. A billboard along US 79 once touted "99 Years of lignite resources."

Those resources now had brought industry to Rockdale.

In 1958 Alcoa donated a 180- by-32-foot building to the City. The Lions Club secured half of that building and agreed to pay for moving the building to the park to be used as a Boy Scout meeting place.

South Milam County United Fund helped in making this building permanent in the park. The building was used by many organizations.

In January, 1960, a group of men met and decided to form a club for those who enjoyed the pleasures of horse-related sports.

After a while, this group met with the Rockdale City Council to build a site within the Fair Park grounds as an arena.

Research: "The Rockdale Fair and Fair Grounds from 1908" Harold Love, 1980.

marygraham99@yahoo.com


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The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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