Despite Brownwoodís location in rural Texas, almost as far from any state line as a traveler can get, many aspects of life here defy its geography. The community is home to a thriving, diverse and ó for many ó surprisingly large industrial and manufacturing complex. Retail options are high quality and wide-ranging. And cultural opportunities are abundant.

But for one or two weeks a year, everyone is invited to salute the Old West pioneer heritage that is ours by supporting activities of the Brown County Fair Association. In January, that means involvement in the Brown County Youth Fair. In July, that means being in the stands for the Brown County Rodeo.

The Youth Fair is important because it provides young people a place to succeed and earn financial rewards that will come in handy with college on the horizon. The Brown County Rodeo is important because it raises awareness and funds to help keep the overall program and facilities going.

But beyond all that, this weekís 44th annual Brown County Rodeo is simply good family entertainment, and volunteers in the fair association devote weeks of planning and effort to make it happen. And itís important that it does, and for reasons more than just because itís tradition.

This enormous undertaking attracts riders and spectators from throughout the nation. The work is hard, but the rewards are great.

The Brown County Rodeo has been a popular event among local residents for decades, but rodeoís popularity has never been stronger nationally. Records continue to be set for the number of sold-out shows, and in a recent survey by Sports Business Daily, rodeo was seventh in overall attendance. At the start of the decade, rodeo didnít even crack the top 20.

Rodeo is no longer limited to those who claim a Western lifestyle. Itís a sport and a form of entertainment that is attracting fans from all walks of life, regardless of their city address or urban profession.

For those who havenít had that experience, the Brown County Rodeo provides a top-quality show with a wide variety of events. Every member of the family will find something to enjoy. Perhaps most importantly, this is an excellent way to help support the fair association and our local youth.

Itís July, and itís rodeo week. For Brown County residents, this grand tradition of the Old West is being honored once more.

Brownwood Bulletin