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History

Since the later part of the 19th century, Williamson County has had an agriculturally diverse economy. Farmers would utilize the nutrient rich backland soil to grow cash crops such as cotton, corn, wheat, and sorghum. Other agriculture operations included raising cattle, sheep, and chickens. Ranchers welcomed the Chisholm Trail to help drive cattle up north to the mid-west. Since the late 1880’s to the late 1900’s Taylor was a shipping hub for area farmers and ranchers, thanks to the intersection of two major railroad lines. Farmers and ranchers were able to ship out goods to the rest of the country.

Farmer standing in the middle of an outdoor chicken pen surrounded by chickens
E. Werchan of Taylor Tending to his Flock of Chickens in May of 1958 

Black and white photo of sorghum harvest
Sorghum Harvesting in Williamson County 

With the completion of Interstate-35, Williamson County began to see an increase of population starting in the 1960’s. The western side of the County saw exponential growth. During the 1990’s, Williamson County underwent urbanization, changing the landscape of the area. Although now, much of Williamson County has changed to a faster pace of life. The Eastern part of the County still relies on agricultural industry.

Locals have found ways to celebrate the end of a great harvest season or showing off their livestock. During the later part of the 19th century, Taylor was the hub of Williamson County, hosting Trade Days for local farmers to sell their produce as well as the yearly Farm Festival. Students of local cities of Williamson County FFA and 4H chapters have participated in livestock shows dating back to the early Farm Festivals.
Black and white photo of H. Davenport at the Taylor Farm Festival with prize winning white sheep with two ribbons
H. Davenport and his Champion Lamb at the Taylor Farm Festival in early 1900's 

Sepia colored photo in a sale barn of champion steer from the Taylor Livestock and Poultry show
Prize Winning Steer at the 1970 Annual Taylor Livestock and Poultry Show 

Black and white photo of young boy holding a white chicken receiving money from judge
Hutto Student with Prizing Winning Poultry at the Annual Taylor Livestock and Poultry Show. 

In December 2019, the Williamson County Commissioners Court approved an agreement with the Williamson County Fair Association relating to funding the county’s first fair and rodeo in 2021. The agreement states that Williamson County will fund $100,000 to be used as seed money for the Williamson County Fair Association. The association will reimburse the county within four years, or the Commissioners Court has the ability to forgive all or a portion of that amount.
Photos courtesy of the Taylor Public Library Archives in Taylor, TX.
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