State Fair of Texas Announces Heritage Hall of Honor

heritage hall of fame

The State Fair of Texas recently announced its two newest inductees to the Texas Heritage Hall of Honor. This biennial program was established in 1992 to recognize men and women who have made significant contributions to the agricultural heritage of Texas. These individuals have been accomplished farmers, ranchers, drovers, inventors, innovators, educators, authors, legislators, and preservationists. Their achievements span 170 years, reaching back to the birth of the Texas Republic and extending out into a limitless future.

Since 2019, the induction of nominees both living and deceased are considered annually. This year, Laurence M. Lasater and Frances Richmond Cooper are being recognized for their achievements and contributions that helped establish Texas as a premier agricultural leader in the nation. They join more than 70 men and women previously inducted into the Texas Heritage Hall of Honor.

Laurence M. Lasater of San Antonio was born to Tom and Mary Lasater, the founders of the Beefmaster Breed. In 1964 he and his wife, Annette, moved to Coahuila, Mexico, where their cattle became the foundation herd of the breed in Mexico. In 1971 they moved their family to San Angelo, where they established another Beefmaster herd and founded Isa Cattle Co. He is the author of The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Raising, which was first published by the University of Texas at El Paso in 1971 and is now in its 16th edition in multiple languages. He was elected President of the Foundation Beefmaster Association and Director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers. In 2019, he was inducted into the Beefmaster Hall of Fame. Laurence and Annette’s children, Lorenzo and Isabel, have since taken the reins of the family business and continue the Lasater legacy.

Frances Richmond Cooper of Mercedes began her career in 1954 as the secretary to the manager of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show (RGVLS). In 1959, she became manager of the show, and was a key factor in the rise of the RGVLS to its position of being one of the 10 largest livestock shows in Texas. She was known as the heart and soul of the RGVLS. Upon retirement as manager in 1986, Frances was elected to the RGVLS Board of Directors, where she served until the time of her death. The Texas Association of Fairs and Events awarded her with its Lifetime Achievement award in 2002. In 2004, the International Association of Fairs and Expositions presented her with the prestigious Heritage Award. Frances was loved and respected by everyone that knew her, not only in the Rio Grande Valley, but throughout the state of Texas.

Prior Heritage Hall of Honor recipients include: Perry L. Adkisson, L.D. “Don” Anderson; Anne Armstrong; John B. Armstrong; Tobin Armstrong; Henry M. Beachell; Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Sr.; Othal E. Brand, Sr.; Dolph Briscoe, Jr.; Eugene Butler; Ogbourne Duke “O.D.” Butler, Jr.; Fred Campbell; Hoover Carden; John S. Cargile; Ben H. Carpenter; Sr.; John W. Carpenter, Sr.; Edward Cline; Susan Combs; Roy B. Davis; Eligio “Kika” De La Garza; Isaac Leonard Ellewood; Dr. Edward B. Evans, Sr.; Harold M. Freeman; Charles Goodnight; J. Evetts Haley; J. Walter Hammond; Cornelius Taylor Herring; William S. Ikard; Morgan Jones; John S. Justin, Jr.; Elmer Kelton; T.A. Kincaid, Jr.; John H. Kirby; Robert Justice Kleberg, Jr.; Herbert L. Kokernot, Sr.; Herbert L. Kokernot, Jr.; Tom Lasater; George Washington Littlefield; Watkins Reynolds Matthews; John Louis Merrill; Robert Lee “Bob” Miers; Thomas Volney Munson; Wade Lewis Pennington; Jim L. Peterson; Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce; Lonnie A. “Bo” Pilgrim; Dr. Alfred Nelson Poindexter; Charles William Post; James L. Powell; Foy Proctor; B.J. Pryor; Col. Ike T. Pryor; J. Roy Quinby; Clarence Scharbauer, Sr.; Charles Armand Schreiner; Charles G. Scruggs; William M. (Bill) Sims; Christopher Columbus Slaughter; John B. Slaughter; Bob Stallman; Wenzel Louis Stangel; Charles W. Stenholm; Hallie Crawford Stillwell; Svante Magnus (S.M.) Swenson; Ann Burnett Tandy; Dr. T.D. Tanksley, Jr.; T.L.L. “Tom” Temple; S.M. True, Jr.; Daniel Waggoner; W.T. “Tom” Waggoner; W.R. “Billy Bob” Watt; W.R. “Bob” Watt, Jr.; and Mary Nan West Clayton Wheat Williams, Sr.

The State Fair of Texas is a celebration of all things Texan, and a great way to learn about agriculture and Texas heritage is by taking a walk through the Livestock barns or the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center during the State Fair. Visit The Heritage Hall of Honor inside the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center or visit BigTex.com/supporting-texans/agriculture/hall-of-honor to check out all of the inductees and learn more about the program.

The 2021 State Fair of Texas begins September 24 and runs through October 17 at historic Fair Park in Dallas. Hours are Sunday – Thursday, 10am – 9pm and Friday – Saturday 10am – 10pm. Tickets can be purchased online at: https://bigtex.com/buy-tickets-new/

by Gina Wiklund

State Fair of Texas Health & Safety Briefing

30 Days Until Opening Day

Today marks 30 days until Opening Day and the State Fair of Texas team continues to work hard to ensure a safe environment for everyone during the Fair this year.

Big Tex needs every fairgoer to do their part and most of all, be respectful of others and do the right thing. The current health situation makes for a challenging backdrop for the 135-year State Fair of Texas tradition. Of course, we would love for everyone to attend the State Fair this year and continue the great family traditions that make the event special to so many, however, we understand that some will be hesitant. We ask that those who attend do so because they are willing to follow our health guidelines – not because it’s mandated, but because it’s the right thing to do.

During these times, we acknowledge that no event can be completely risk-free, and we’re counting on you to do your part to help us present as safe of an event as we can by following the below health guidance, which is subject to change:

Get vaccinated. If you’re fully vaccinated, thank you! If you’re not, now is the time to be protected for when the Fair’s Opening Day arrives. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself and for everyone, especially children under age 12 and others who cannot currently get vaccinated. It’s widely recognized that the vast majority of all current COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated people. While we will not (and cannot legally) require you to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter the Fair, if you’re not vaccinated and plan to attend, we urge you to do your research, talk to your doctor, and consider a vaccine, both for your safety and the safety of others. If you can’t get one beforehand, our friends at Dallas County Health & Human Services are offering free vaccines at Big Tex Circle from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. all 24 days of the State Fair. Dallas County plans to administer the Pfizer vaccine for those who are receiving their first dose (Note: As of August 23, 2021, the FDA has granted formal approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine). Dallas County will also have the Moderna vaccine available for people who are receiving their second dose of that vaccine. Dallas County is planning to offer an incentive of $20 in State Fair food and ride coupons to those who are eligible and receive their vaccine while at the Fair.

Make an informed decision about attending the Fair. Before you visit, make sure you’ve considered your personal health situation and how you can best keep yourself and those close to you safe and healthy. The Texas Department of State Health Services has a comprehensive webpage on COVID-19 with the latest information on testing, vaccinations, symptoms, what to do if you feel ill, protecting yourself and others, and more. Visit https://www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/ for more information.

Wear a face covering. Masks protect everyone. Plan to bring a mask for yourself and everyone in your party with you to attend the 2021 State Fair of Texas. Wear a mask in the following settings if you are older than age 2 and medically able to wear one:

  • Indoors, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. As of August 25, given the current situation with increasing COVID cases in Dallas County and the current Dallas County order on the Required Use of a Face Mask in Certain Public Space, masks will be required when indoors. Wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of your vaccination status, can help protect you and everyone in close proximity to you.
  • Outdoors in crowded settings, especially if you are not vaccinated.
  • At some independent vendor booths who may require everyone in their booth to wear a mask.

We are largely an outdoor event with plenty of eating and drinking. Approximately 80% of the State Fair is held in outdoor settings. Mandating masks fairgrounds-wide would be extremely difficult for our organization to enforce, so we are urging you to pitch in and do your part by following the above guidelines. Particularly if you go inside, simply put a face covering on for the time you’re shopping, attending a show, or visiting an exhibit.

Again, we ask that you bring your own mask with you to the Fair, but if you forget yours, we’ll have a supply at our gates for you. Just ask the gate attendant when you enter or at an information booth on the fairgrounds.

Wear a face covering if you take DART to the Fair. Many guests arrive at the Fair via DART or other forms of mass transit. Federal regulations require all public transportation passengers to wear masks while they are waiting for and on a train (those under age 2 or who are medically not able to tolerate a mask are exempt). Rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft may have their own mask requirements.

Social distance. Please spread out when you can and wear a mask when you can’t. The fairgrounds are huge, and most activities are outdoors where social distancing is much easier. We’ve created more space in some high-traffic areas and we are adding many more outdoor seating areas. If one area of the Fair is busy, explore new places. Wherever you go, there’s plenty to eat, to do, and to see.

  • Consider attending on a weekday instead of a weekend. Weekdays traditionally are much less crowded than weekends and attending on a weekday provides you with many discount admission offers. 

Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands frequently. More than 500 free hand sanitizer stations are made available by the State Fair throughout the fairgrounds. Plus, there are hand sanitizing stations throughout the barns and livestock areas, where it’s especially important to wash your hands after visiting the animals.

Stay home if you’re not feeling well or you’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Get tested and get well before you visit the Fair. If within the 14 days before you attend the Fair you have tested positive or presumptively positive for COVID-19, experienced any related symptoms or been in direct contact with or in the immediate vicinity of any person who is confirmed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms, please stay home.

Most of all, please respect your fellow fairgoers. We’re all in this together. And please remember that some operators may be short-staffed due to labor shortages. Please practice patience and be kind to those who showed up to work and serve you at the great State Fair of Texas.

Please visit the CDC’s website for more information on how to protect yourself from COVID-19.

CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

CDC guidelines for non-vaccinated individuals:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that can lead to severe illness and even death. An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place regardless of precautions that may be taken. By entering the fairgrounds, you voluntarily assume all risks, hazards and dangers related to exposure, contracting and/or transmitting COVID-19, and voluntarily waive all claims and suits against the State Fair of Texas.

All information is subject to change. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate updates as Opening Day draws closer. All health and safety updates will be posted to BigTex.com/COVID.

The 2021 State Fair of Texas opens on Friday, September 24 and runs through Sunday, October 17. You can purchase season passes and premium tickets online at BigTex.com.