Lifelong Brown County resident Bill Stewart has been involved with the Brown County Fair Association for decades. Participant, volunteer, auctioneer, board member, board president — you name it, and Stewart has probably been involved.
But this Saturday morning Stewart will finally cross another item of the list when he serves as parade marshal for the annual Brown County Rodeo Parade in downtown Brownwood.
“When [rodeo chairman] Brent Moseley … called to tell me that I had been chosen,” Stewart said, “I could not have been happier.”
Stewart first got involved with the fair at age 14, showing ewe lambs at his first fair and winning a grand champion prize for chickens soon after.
He remembers a much smaller fair from the one Brown County knows today. “The fair has gotten so big now compared to what it was,” Stewart said. “When I was there, there were probably only 25 or 30 sheep in the whole deal.”
Stewart remembers receiving his first blue ribbon from the late Putter Jarvis, a longtime friend and advocate for the Fair Association. “Putter was a good friend of mine,” he said. “He supported that fair probably as good or better than anybody I know.”
When Stewart moved back to Brown County from college, he started volunteering with the Fair Association right away. “I love to be around kids,” he explained. “They’re funny, and these kids you’re involved with around the fair … are really good kids. They say, ‘Yes sir,’ and ‘No sir.’ I just enjoy their kind of people.”
These days, he said, he’s seeing the grandkids of the students he first worked with coming through the sale. “It’s kind of a tradition,” he said. “Those kids just follow right on. Most of them go to school somewhere and turn out really well.”
Around 1975, Stewart was given an impromptu lesson in auctioneering from Wayne May and had to call the sale for the first time. He’s been at it ever since. “I don’t know that I’m good yet,” he joked. “It takes awhile — you don’t just pick that up overnight. But the more you do it, the easier it is.”
In addition to the fair, Stewart has been attending the rodeo every year as well. These days he lives with his wife in May, spending time with his grandchildren and staying busy. Stewart said he’s honored to represent the people of Brown County in the Rodeo Parade. He called Brown County residents the “best people in the world.”
“They support each other really well here, and the citizens of Brown County support that fair whether they’re from Brookesmith, May, Bangs, Early, Brownwood or Zephyr,” he said. “If you need help, you’ve got it. You don’t have to beg for help — they’ll show up with it.”
The 54th annual Brown County Rodeo begins Thursday evening at 8 p.m. The Rodeo Parade is on Saturday at 10 a.m. in downtown Brownwood.