When you see the red, white and blue banners go up around the downtown square of Alvarado, residents know the Johnson County Pioneer and Old Settlers Reunion is approaching.
Thanks to Boy Scouts troop 9299 and Old Settlers board members, those banners went up about two weeks ago.
The county fair — formally known as the Johnson County Pioneers and Old Settlers Reunion — returns Wednesday to celebrate the 127th year.
Alvarado Chamber of Commerce President Marty Douglas encouraged everyone to attend.
“This is a great event that we can all be involved in,” he said. “I know the chamber will have a float. We’re going to be throwing out candy. It will be four days of fun and excitement.”
One of the largest events of its kind in Texas, the reunion traces its beginnings to when John James, a local farmer and newspaper correspondent, proposed the idea to “reunite the citizenship which was divided” to some of his neighbors.
Throughout the years, the reunion changed from two days of festivities to six days.
The carnival of those early meetings consisted of one ride — a flying jenny pulled by two white horses.
Today, the events and entertainment include a parade, beauty contest, baby contest, fiddle contest, various bands and a carnival that consists of many rides and games, attracting more than 10,000 visitors each year.
A parade will kickoff this year’s fair at 6 p.m.
Parade participants will first make their way around the Alvarado square and continue on to the reunion grounds where the winners will be announced.
“We’ve got over 30 entries already and that doesn’t include the queen contestants and all the police cars and fire trucks,” parade coordinator Leanna Cowan said.
Cash prizes and trophies will be given in 19 categories. The deadline to submit entries for the parade is Monday at 6 p.m.
“If they dont want to compete for a prize they can show up the day of the parade up until 5 p.m.,” Cowan said.
Reunion Association President Lloyd Keith Kenfro will welcome guest during an opening ceremony at 7:30 p.m. at the reunion grounds, with David Hearne leading the invocation.
The queen contest begins at 8 p.m. with a $1,000 scholarship for the first-place winner.
Queen contestants must be between 15 and 21 years of age, not married nor have been.
The baby contest at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.
There are two categories — walking to 3 years old and then 3 to 6 years old. Each group is limited to 100 participants. Each winner will receive $25 and a trophy. Entries for the baby contest must be made by 5 p.m. Sunday.
A Texas Old Time Fiddler’s contest begins at 6 p.m. Friday.
On Saturday there will be a bake off for cakes, pies, breads and other sweets. There is a $10 entry fee for each item.
Drop off time is between 10-11 a.m. with public judging from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Judges fees are $5 to taste six items or $10 to taste 13 items. Winners will be announced at 1:30 p.m.
Desperado, an Eagles tribute band, will perform a free concert at 7 p.m.
Bob Baze will lead an old time gospel at 4 p.m. Sept. 15.
Parking each night will be $2, except for Sept. 15 when it will be $5 for the concerts.
A carnival will go on during each night of the reunion.
Rides will be open from 6-11 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday, and 6 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
Wristbands cost $25, however, some rides require additional tickets.
Make sure while you are there to sign the reunion guest book, which will be kept on a table near the northeast side entrance to the Pavilion building, and take your place in Texas history.