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The Gillespie County Fair

2.87  ·  Rating details ·  90 ratings  ·  69 reviews
The Gentrification of Rural Texas 
The Gillespie County Fair, the oldest fair in Texas, looms insistently over the shoulder of Marc Hess’s new novel. As rampant land development and tourist money begin to transform the old German farming community of Fredericksburg, two intermarried pioneer families lock in a life-and-death struggle over the sale of their homestead. Their
Published April 30th 2019 by Greenleaf Book Group Press
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2.87  · 
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Gillespie County Fair by Marc Hess is a 2019 Greenleaf Group Press publication.

I was super excited about my invitation to read this book. As everyone knows by now, I live in Texas and like to support local authors if I can. I was also intrigued by the setting, which is in one of my favorite places to visit- Fredericksburg, Texas!! So, I was really looking forward to reading this one.

Unfortunately, I don’t do well with large casts of characters, and this book was overflowing with them. I felt lo
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
I am a Book Blogger at For the Southwest By the Southwest Book Corner. I got a free copy of this from Net Galley for a fair and honest review.
About the only good thing I can say about this book is that it took place in Texas.
I was so confused my the many families involved and all of the scheming of their personal lives and their real estate affairs.
Sorry, this book was not for me.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it
The Gillespie County Fair is an interesting story of the demise of the old ways, customs and structure of a long standing way of traditional rural living. Conversely, the story is also about the rise of a new set of customs and beliefs that will now be structured into a completely new and different way of living. The characters are an ensemble of two intermarried families, thus tied to each other regardless of their feelings or convictions about the situation they live in every day. The tension ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookishfirst

Thank you Bookishfirst for this win. This was a very difficult book for me to read. Because of all the characters I continuously found myself lost and had to backtrack to remind myself who was who and their relationship to each other. The story takes place in Texas in an old German farming community There is an ongoing feud about purchasing and developing land for a subdivision. Money is a major theme and as the saying goes “money is the root of all evil”. I thought the town of Fredericksburg wa
Kate Vocke
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, hard-to-finish
I really loved the premise of this one - several characters, natives to this Texas town, coming together for a huge county fair, while their hometown is slowly becoming more touristy and the lives they've always known of quiet country farming is disappearing. All of them have their issues, some are coming back after years, some can't wait to get away. Isn't that how all small towns are?!

There's a lot of background history here for a lot of characters - that all builds up to getting together at t
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Thanks to and Greenleaf Book Press for this ARC.

Unfortunately, I can't give this book more than 2 stars. What a waste of my valuable reading time.

This book title totally threw me off. I thought (yes, even after reading the plot) before I wrote the first impression, that it would be about The Gillespie (Texas) State Fair in Fredericksburg. That also threw me off since there's a Fredericksburg, VA, but I knew it wasn't that one! The characters were all related in some way and the
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I was really looking forward to the advanced reader's copy of Gillespie County Fair. I had been wondering if this would be an updated, Texas wine country setting for something like the old 'Dallas' television series? The mix of small-town politics as well the exchanging of ex-spouses to form new small-town families could be quite a volatile mix. Then add in the fuel that comes with the possibility of becoming nouveau riche with this specific area's real estate boom, and it seems like there could ...more
Darcia Helle
The Gillespie County Fair is... I don't know what. I'm at a loss, and utterly confused as to the point of it all. I read the first 50 or so pages, thinking it had to get better. Some sort of cohesive story had to emerge, eventually. When that didn't happen, I got restless and irritated, and I started skimming. And then, halfway through, I gave up.

Is there a story here? I don't know. What I read was a whole lot of misery and drama, none of which seemed to have a point. It was like a really bad so
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
I'm not even entirely sure what The Gillespie County Fair is supposed to be about. It's certainly not about the Gillespie County Fair. It's not really about Fredericksburg, Texas, where it takes place. I suppose it's about the inhabitants of Fredericksburg, maybe a character study of the people in this community? But it's hard, if not impossible, to like any of them. Selfish, ambitious, drunk, apathetic, ambivalent. Just about the only positive trait I can find in any of these people is their lo ...more
K.S. Lewis
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
While this doesn’t necessarily have a focus on or contain a magical element, it greatly reminds me of the Night Circus. Two families are joined together, giving Texas w headstrong young girl. This also brings together a demise of one part of the story and the blossom of another part of the story. A family is torn and distraught with the town glows brightly with promise, intrigue, and happiness. This is one of those books for those that like seeing a grand end come from nothing, while also captur ...more
This was a quick light hearted read. A town in Texas has secrets that have long been hidden and as tempers rise, and people come back to town for the yearly Gillespie Fair- secrets come out. Willow is just trying to find herself as she ventures into adult hood and feels the only way is to get out of this town. Her life changes when these secrets get revealed, and someone who everyone thought was nothing but a money hungry man, may not actually be so bad after all. I read this fairly quickly as i ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you Bookishfirst and Netgalley for providing an advanced copy of The Gillespie County Fair by Marc Hess in return for my honest review.

It was difficult to connect with the characters in Gillespie County Fair. They are all flawed, there are too many of them, and their stories are depressing. Add to that the German terminology scattered throughout the book, and the mere 197 pages was an effort to finish. That being said, I loved the cover of the book and the small Texas town of Fredericksbur
Hannah Boyd Ferdinand
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Though this book is quite unlike others I've read, I found I liked its quirkiness once I finished it. I really enjoyed the alternate voices telling the story but I also liked the way justice seemingly found its way to every single character in the book, like each deserved. This was comical at times, but I also enjoyed the twist at the end.
Allyson Cochrane
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I received this book as a bookish first winner and I was really excited to read this book because not only am I a Texan, but I love visiting Fredericksburg! I think it is such a beautiful place and i love the deep roots that remain throughout the town. However, this was not my favorite read. It had many characters and story lines to follow and I felt as though it was not capturing a good enough plot to have some many involved characters. In a sense, I felt like the story kept movi
Danielle  Emily
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
By dani dives in

Thank you to Bookishfirst for the win of Marc Hess's The Gillespie County Fair. I was really looking forward to reading this book being from Texas.
However, it did not torn out to be a book that I can say is a new favorite of mine.
I was disappointed to find that Hes did not focus more on the Texas history aspect of the story.

The plot did not seem like it flowed in a manner which lends itself to making for a clear story. One example of this , is the inclusion of "the cutting sce
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs
The Gillespie County Fair is a novel with so much potential in the story, but it fell so flat for me. I didn’t feel any sort of connection to or sympathy for the characters or what they were experiencing. It also seemed like the story jumped around a lot; there were events that took place but were only mentioned as having happened, even though they sounded like they could have been a good addition to the story. The beginning was good, giving the book potential in my opinion, but after that it fe ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
NOTE: I received an advance copy from in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Marc Hess’ The Gillespie County Fair is a slight novel at just under 200 pages, but packed with a cast of interrelated characters. It takes a bit of time and patience to sort out who is who, and who is related to who. It becomes especially complicated as the novel goes on.

In the small town of Fredericksburg, Texas, things are changing. The poor but proud descendants of German settlers who make up Fred
Ilse Baylon
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Gillespie County Fair

Marc Hess crafted a very complicated read by building many character stories from the very beginning. All the characters have many flaws and all have much room to grow.
The story takes place in a small Texan city during The Gillespie County Fair. Funny enough, the fair itself takes up a couple pages at most and plays a minuscule part of the story.
Told in different POV’s, this novel is full of characters that seem to have a lot of baggage. A property catches fire during th
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I received an e book version “The Gillespie County Fair” through giveaway contest on Goodreads.
As I read the book I thought it might have been better if I had not recently visited Fredricksburg, Texas a couple of years ago. It was a pleasant , attractive little town in the beautiful Hill County of Texas. Maybe much has happened since then, but I did not encounter many people who used Germanisms like liebling and shatzie in every day conversations, and while I certainly saw a lot of jeans, boots
Michelle Arredondo
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Texas native of course I wanted to read this book. Honestly it is what drew me in immediately. Gillespie county...known for it's quaint small town vibes. But is it known for it's family drama and dysfunction? Maybe...I wouldn't know personally but interested to see this author's take on it.

So many characters...natives of this Texas town. Drama and dysfunction...plenty of it. So much going on thanks to local politics. Ex wives....a whole slew of dysfunctional seedy people, and a defi
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
We're in Texas where the townspeople are set in their ways. Everyone knows everyone's business, and they are all up in it. The author introduced many characters from the start, which is hard for a reader to keep track of who is who. The main character is Carel, but towards the end of the book, the focus is put more in his daughter Willow. Carel has big dreams of being rich, but with poorly executed plans that depend on the borrowing of more and more money. Everyone in town is connected in some w ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was given review copies of The Gillespie County Fair from BookishFirst and NetGalley. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

The Gillespie County Fair is the story of a dysfunctional family in small town rural Texas. Carel Geische has a vision to transform his town into a tourist spot, with himself as the recipient of the riches that are sure to come. His wheeling and dealing already cost him one family, but when Carel's prosperous vision comes to a grindi
Erica Franco
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book I would normally pick out, but I received a copy from Goodreads giveaway and I'm glad I gave it a chance. I live in San Antonio and have spent time in Fredericksburg so I especially enjoyed learning about the history and getting a glimpse into the local perspective. It's true that this book does have a lot of characters and it can be confusing to keep track of their various relationships. However, I could appreciate all of the characters and felt they all added something to th ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
The oldest fair in Texas is the Gillespie County Fair. The fair is well regarded and everyone loves to participate in the fair. The old German farming community is struggling to keep it's original charm alive, while rampant land developers are trying to buy up family homesteads. Two families are torn apart over the sale of their homestead. Will the community be able to survive?

When I first read this book, I thought it was going to be about a community that is struggling and how they able to come
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: already-read
Small Texas town with typical townies still living their high school days. One who left now returns and sees the same old, same old, including rivalries that never went away.

Growing up with an English teacher mother made me cringe when I read, "What dat dere you got on yer head, boy?" I was already annoyed with the over the top characters, but that put me in full annoyed mode and I found it never got any better.

The Gillespie County Fair title really didn't sum up the book as it was at the end
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookish-first
I'll start by saying that the characters seemed to be well-developed, but there were too many characters for the story line. For example, I loved Willow's snarky characteristics and her "never back down" attitude, but she should have had a much more active role in this story. I expected a lot more about the fair when in reality, I almost glossed right over it. Max was introduced way too late into the story. I felt like this book was the sequel to a much earlier novel where we were already used t ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: review-books
The Gillespie County Fair transports readers into a small Texas town ripe with citizens fighting to keep it's German roots. Carel specifically seems hell-bent on preserving historical appeal while using his every resource to make money off of it's people. But, when the past finally catches up will Carel and all those in his web remain unaffected?

Told in alternating perspectives of several "key" individuals this book is at times confusing and conversely frustrating. There are few "chapter" breaks
Jen Juenke
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book in one sitting. I thought that the scenery was perfect. From the struggling of the small downtown to the interweaving of the lives of the citizens, the story all came together for me.
I thought that the start of the book, with the fire destroying one of the last remaining businesses in town, really had nothing to do with the story. I thought that it would actually be more pertinent to the story.
The book is all about one man's obsession on redesigning his family and the town that
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Get inside the hearts and minds in a small Texas town! I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Gillespie County Fair." There is so much more to this book and storyline than one would expect by reading the title. Small town politics, secrets within secrets leading to actions by characters taken, some erroneously, due to a lack of truth. I particularly enjoyed the characters, the way they interact with each other, and the reasons behind their actions.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever l
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book never quite caught me in its web. I didn’t like the characters. They all seemed shallow and grubby. The plot wandered about until the “secret sin” was revealed and then the secret didn’t seem to matter much at all.
Carel, the main character, just wandered about the story making or revealing mistake after mistake, not learning anything from his errors. His wife (current) and daughter do manage to have redeeming qualities of a sort. The writing is ok
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Marc Hess has lived in Fredericksburg long enough to see the venerable and rock-rimmed German farming community morph into the chic, new-age tourist destination that it is today. Steeped in a career of magazine publishing and travel writing, Marc is the founding publisher of The Insider’s Guide To The Texas Hills and has raised his family among the Germans who cling tightly to the beauty of their ...more