HITCHCOCK — It’s April and the first weekend of the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo. Must mean it is raining.
Well, that’s true this year. As the fair kicks off its 75th edition, things are a bit wet after Thursday’s downpours. Just how true is the refrain that it “always rains during the county fair”?
It’s been a part of Galveston County Fair and Rodeo lore ever since heavy rains forced officials to cancel the last day of the Dairy Show (the fair’s precursor) on Aug. 29, 1953.
More recent history shows us, however, that precipitation is rare during the county fair and rodeo.
A search of The Daily News’ archives and National Weather Service historical data since 1998 shows that Mother Nature has generally been nice to fairgoers.
Now, because the fair is held in Jack Brooks Park in Hitchcock, there are no official rain gauges to show how much rain might have fallen along state Highway 6 during fair time.
So, using the rain measurements at Scholes International Airport in Galveston and the National Weather Service Office in League City as the official measurements, plus a review of The Daily News and Texas City Sun’s coverage of the fair, as well as a review of the fair’s official history, we were able to find that during the past 13 years, there were only seven days of reported rain out of 117 fair days.
Most days, the rain was slight and did little to disrupt activities.
The heaviest rains came during the middle of the week last year when two days of rain made the Senior Citizens Day a bit wet. Rains on the first weekend in 2009 were blamed for a drop in attendance, but a heavy downpour on the Monday of the 2002 fair didn’t affect any of the festivities, although the storms did damage a vendor’s tent, according to news reports.
There were brief showers in 2003 and again in 2004, but aside from the chilly weather during the 2003 kickoff parade, fairgoers enjoyed rain-free days.
As for this year’s fair?
The weather service said after Thursday’s rains, expect sunny to partly cloudy days this weekend with a 10 percent chance of rain on Saturday and Sunday.
Chances of rain increase to 20 percent by late next weekend with the early (and less accurate) forecast for the barbecue cook-off next weekend calling for 60 percent chance of rain.