Bastrop Homecoming & Rodeo History
The name for Bastrop’s home-town celebration results from its beginnings. During World War II, business boomed in Bastrop as 90,000 military men were based at Camp Swift a few miles north of town. When the war ended and camp essentially closed, business lessened. As an attempt to give the city a boost, civic and business leaders created the first Homecoming Jubilee for area residents and to entice former residents, who spent time there during the war, to “come home” for the festivities. Past celebrations took place in various months, May-August, and some included such things as fishing class boat races from Montopolis Bridge in Austin to the boat docks at Fisherman’s Park, Beauty Pageants, arts and crafts shows, kiddie parades, pet parades, canoe races and dances at the American Legion Hall. This annual tradition has provided an enjoyable weekend for the citizens of Bastrop and the surrounding area while maintaining a positive impact on the community.
The following information was taken from an edition of The Bastrop Adveriser dated 1972 during Homecoming’s 25th Anniversary: In a joint effort of the American Legion, Chamber of Commerce, the city and county, and other organizations, the community came together to bring about the 1st Homecoming Jubilee. After two months of concentrated hard work, Bastrop citizens relaxed after a job well done. Some citizens and their committees mentioned for their amazing results were: William Higgins and his rodeo committee, who in less than 6 weeks’ time, (with the help of county and city officials, and other individuals) built a real rodeo arena. It was not just a field, but also a beautiful arena with chutes and pens, all necessary fencing, with stands having a seating capacity of over 4,000, with reserved seats and judges stands-which compared favorably with any arenas around our area. Mayor Dr. Bryson and Frank Green (food committee chairman) in arranging a free barbecue dinner that was served immediately after church services on Sunday. There was plenty of good food, quickly and easily served-with plenty of shaking of hands and greeting of old friends in a real reunion. J. V. Ash, Jr., chairman of the two equally successful dances held in the beautiful terrace on the east side of the American Legion Center on Friday and Saturday nights. Sam Gurwitz., the financial chairman-for successfully raising the money that many businessmen up and down Main St. said was too much to raise-the highest priced affair that Bastrop had ever undertaken-and came out with some to spare.
The event is held every year during the 1st full weekend of August at Mayfest Hill Park. Festivities include three nights of live music, rodeo, a carnival, food and gift vendors, the Mike Mathison Memorial Horseshoe Tournament, the Fred Wright, Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament, high school class reunions, 4-H Cake Auction, and exhibits. A Grand Parade is held on Saturday morning and immediately following the parade, an all BHS Class Reunion is held at the Bastrop Convention Center.