The Harris County Fair & Rodeo will be moving its permanent home to the northeast corner of Telge Road and the Grand Parkway in 2024 following the purchase in March of 165 acres for the fair.

Fred Stockton, owner of Stockton Inc.—a for-profit corporation in Hempstead—and chair of the Harris County Fair & Rodeo board, purchased the land from Williams Family Land Tomball LLC.

The first fair and rodeo at the new grounds will be in October 2024, and Stockton said there are plans to have the grounds double as an event space for the community to use year-round. Pieces of the historic Tin Hall dance hall will also be incorporated in an event venue on the property.

Leslie Martone, president of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce, grew up in Cy-Fair and said she remembers going to Tin Hall as a teenager. She said with a large participation in local FFA programs and in the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, she believes the community will appreciate and support the new rodeo venue.

“I think Tomball might see more of the economic impact, but I am sure that the ones coming and going will support our local businesses. For sure if people are coming in from out of town, our hotels will get the businesses as well as restaurants in the area,” she said.

Traveling fair

According to Lessie Upchurch’s book “Welcome to Tomball,” the Harris County Fair & Rodeo started in 1929 in Tomball. It was called the Tomball-Hufsmith Fair Association, the North Harris County Fair and the Harris County Fair before being discontinued in 1955.

Restarting in 1979, the Houston Farm and Ranch organization led the fair for nearly 40 years. The Harris County Fair & Rodeo was previously held in the Bear Creek area in Houston. According to the fair’s website, after the fairgrounds flooded twice in 2017, the fairgrounds were condemned and the original promoting organization disbanded.

As the fair prepares to return to the Tomball area, Stockton said aside from himself, the Harris County Fair & Rodeo has a new board of directors.

A few years after a group formed on Facebook to reform the organization, the fair began traveling to different communities in 2021, including New Caney, Pasadena and Katy, where the fair is slated to be this fall.

“The children of Harris County needed a fair,” Stockton said. “There was a group of us that never wanted it to go away.”

Stockton said a permanent location will allow the community direct access to the association.

“One of the things we will have there is our own building,” he said. “We’ll be able to have on-site meetings, an actual office, a home phone for people to call and a full-time staff. We can sell signage on the property. It will also bring in more donors.”

The land is broken into three tracts, according to Stockton, with an RV spot, space for barbecue cookoffs and trailer parking.

The new location will also allow for the return of the youth rodeo in 2024 along with a permanent rodeo arena to use year-round, he said. Stockton said the fair association has not been able to support a youth rodeo since 2017.

“We looked at what we didn’t like before, and we are trying to correct that now with the new location,” Stockton said.

Rodeo reaction

Officials said by bringing the youth rodeo back, it will bring more opportunities for Cy-Fair and Tomball students in FFA and agricultural programs to get experience and earn scholarships. Stockton said 90% of event proceeds are funneled back into the community or scholarships, as the Harris County Fair & Rodeo is a nonprofit.

In 2022, $4,000 was awarded in scholarships. Michelle Reed, Harris County Fair & Rodeo president, said this year’s total will reach $5,000.

“In our first and second year bringing the fair back, we raised $84,000 for various organizations in Harris County,” she said in an interview.

In addition to the rodeo component, the fair plans to host events throughout the year, such as barbecue cookoffs and fundraisers, Stockton said.

Tin Hall

The iconic Tin Hall will also be reconstructed in the next year or two as another event venue on the property for meetings, weddings and special events, Stockton said. He said he plans to use pieces of the old dance hall for a modern, steel building on the new fairgrounds.

“You know Tin Hall has been a part of Cypress history for so long; to hear of it coming back is so exciting,” Martone said. “I love history, especially Cy-Fair or Cypress history, so I hope they bring back some of the old mixed with the new to their new location.”

Tin Hall is considered by the Texas State Historical Association to be the oldest honky-tonk in Harris County.

“It’ll be a one-story building with the old building’s floors, walls and bars back in it,” Stockton said. “Part of bringing the fair back is that we like to preserve the past but looking toward the future.”

According to the TSHA, the original Tin Hall was built in 1878 in Cypress and destroyed by fire a few years later; a new building was constructed in 1890 and expanded in the 1920s.

By the early 21st century, Tin Hall began hosting weddings, receptions and other private functions. Stockton said after the venue briefly changed hands, the hall returned to his family in 2016.

“It will become a meeting place and melting pot for the community to use,” he said. “It helps support the community. Not just Tin Hall, but I wanted to bring back the fair to my hometown as well. Now we have two pieces of history. We’re bringing back our roots.”