Comal County Fair

fairThe Comal County Fair can trace its roots back to the late 1800s. An article in the Neu Braunfelser Zeitung in 1892 stated, “The citizens of Fredericksburg, in cooperation with the people from Gillespie County have for several years held a successful fair, and Lockhart, the county seat of Caldwell County, will hold its first fair this fall. That a fair in New Braunfels would be successful could be assured, because the railroads have agreed to run special trains from San Antonio and Austin to bring trainloads of visitors to the fair.”

Just three months later, an opportunity to hold a fair was presented. The city hospital, called the Krankenhaus (German for hospital), was to hold its dedication and fund-raiser on September 30, October 1 and 2. The Krankenhaus was located on the corner of Zink and Seguin Avenues and the fair was to take place on its grounds. Funds made at the fair were to be turned over to the Krankenhaus. The success of this fair contributed to the idea of forming a fair association. So on January 4, 1893, the Comal County Fair Association was organized at a public meeting in the courthouse with authorized capital of $10,000 to be raised by selling shares to the public. Prominent businessman Harry Landa was elected president. The association set the first Fair for November 1893, to be held on Harry Landa’s property (the LCRA or Landmark building located on Landa Street was Landa’s pasture). Ironically, due to drought conditions, the fair was cancelled that first year and rescheduled the following year (1894) at the same location. For the next four years, the fair was held on Landa’s pasture.

On December 19, 1898, the Comal County Fair Association purchased eleven acres on the Guadalupe River in Comaltown (an area of New Braunfels). A month later, adjoining acres were purchased. One hundred fifty citizens purchased 600 shares at $2.00 a share for a total of $1,200 to provide funding. The land was cleared and a track was laid out for racing plus a 40x60 foot dance floor was built. A newspaper reporter in 1902 reported that the association was in good financial shape, but within three years, the association found itself in financial trouble. This led to a decision to sell their property to the City of New Braunfels for $1,000, which occurred in July of 1905. However, the sale included a provision that the Fair Association could use the land for 50 years. Although the 50 years has long passed and most of the property still belongs to the City of New Braunfels, the fair is still taking place on the same grounds.

By 1908 and 1909, the fair was once again financially sound. Then from 1910 until 1922 there was no mention in the newspapers of a fair happening and the City was using the property as a dumping ground.

After several years without a fair in New Braunfels, a group of civic-minded citizens revived the idea of an annual fair. The Comal County Fair Association was re-organized in 1923 into a corporation, with shares selling for $10 each. To compensate for the land lost to the city landfill, the organization purchased three blocks of property from owners of lots in the Braunfels subdivision adjacent to the fairgrounds. The price was $7,762. Then tragedy, unexpectedly, the grandstand burned to the ground right before the fair, and the directors found themselves with a $10,000 improvement debt. Fortunately the organization had taken out insurance for rain damage because on the second and third day, the fair was rained out. In the end, the insurance paid $5,000 and ticket sales amounted to another $5,000, putting the fair in good shape financially.

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Comal County Historical Commission