Putting together an award-winning Gillespie Fair float is like creating art

WITH JUST A FEW HANDS (of 2013 Gillespie County Fair Float committee members Robert Bohnert, Henry Sagebiel, Wallace Britton and Carey Durst,) an entire side of the fair float folds down to reveal glittery signage. The folding sides allow the float to box itself in for better transport purposes. — Standard-Radio Post/Lisa Treiber-Walter

By Lisa Treiber-Walter —At the Gillespie County Fair Grounds, there are literally closets full of awards won by the fair float as it has traveled through the years, taking part in parades and serving as a beacon shining attention on the Lone Star State’s oldest, continuous county fair.

Last year alone, the float won a dozen trophies for its outings. This year, the count started with a first place at the Brownwood parade, a first in the Stonewall Peach JAMboree parade, a Judge’s Award in Luling, a first in Comfort and so on, according to Maxine Jung, who, along with Brian Roeder, serve as co-chairmen under float committee chairman Freddy Jung for this 125th milestone fair.

It has been their job to make sure that this year’s fair float is not only award-worthy, but that it also is a work of art, continuing a tradition begun in 1949 with the appearance of the first float.

Each year, a different design (complete with different colors and props) is conceived to make each float unique.

“We’ve always been real up on the idea of having something that moves,” said committee member Carey Durst. “It’s one thing to have a float, but if you have something that structurally moves on the float while you’re driving it, people seem to get a big kick out of that.”

This year’s float has, at its front, an oval racetrack complete with circling horses and jockeys, plus a star-adorned wheel at the back of the float that serves as a backdrop to Gillespie County Fair Queen Camry Weinheimer.

The float is adorned in reds, whites and blues, thanks to the design work of Maxine Jung and fellow committee member Morgan Davis, who wanted to make it “more festive for the 125th anniversary,” Jung said.

Although the float is flashy and polished, what spectators see for a fleeting moment isn’t a piece that’s put together the night before a parade. In fact, work starts on each year’s fair float in January.

“We get the girls (the queen and duchesses) involved and, in January, we go up one day a week on Wednesdays to work on it,” Durst said, adding that some 20 directors also work the sessions lasting four to five hours. “The first thing we do, is tear it apart.

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