Fair shows attract crowds

Parched Prairie Players perform during Friday evening's "Here Come the Cows .. And Never Say Moo in Mesa." The hour-and-half long play displayed the talents of local actors and provided entertaining scenes for playgoers.  From left to right, pictured are: Franque Robertson, Samantha Springer, Larry Keltner, Vern May and Halle Keltner.

By Kay Braddock

      County residents and visitors enjoyed Prairie County’s 74th annual fair this past weekend. 
      “Despite the torrential rain we had Friday afternoon, the weather was pretty good to us,” said county extension agent and fair manager Sharla Sackman. 

Pointing to sunny weather the rest of the weekend, as well as solid attendance numbers for day and evening attractions, Sackman said the fair’s turnout was about typical of recent years.
“I think it went well,” Sackman said. “We had some things that were up and some things that were down.”
Although open class exhibit numbers were down in all departments, Sackman noted the amount of 4H exhibits were about the same as last year. The open class agronomy department saw the biggest drop in its number of exhibits. Cool weather this spring and early summer along with the fair’s earlier date can most likely be attributed to the decrease in that department, Sackman said. 
For the past three years the Prairie County Fair has been held the first weekend in August, rather than the second weekend, as it was done formerly. The fair date was originally changed in 2009 due to scheduling conflicts with neighboring fairs. The fair board opted to stay with the first weekend because of positive feedback received. No decision has yet been made about the date for next year’s fair, according to Sackman, noting fair board members will weigh their options and feedback received before making future plans.
The arts and crafts department continues to be popular, bringing in 449 exhibits of the total 913 open class exhibits displayed this year.
The high in open class exhibits in recent years was in 2008 when nearly 1,800 open class exhibits were submitted and displayed. Last year there were a total of 1,300 open class exhibits.
Enjoying the biggest crowd this year was Prairie Action League’s Bump-n-Run. The Saturday afternoon event drew in 423 people – over 100 more than last year. Friday evening’s play performance by the Parched Prairie Players saw the biggest drop, from last year’s 183 to this year’s 114. 
Friday afternoon’s downpour may have likely deterred many from coming out Friday evening, Sackman said. 
Although skies cleared in time for the play, the rain did cause a bit of havoc for the play’s actors, as they had to maneuver around a large puddle of water surrounding the stage. Plywood and tarp was used along with scrapping of the ground to remove some of the water. 
Despite the afternoon thunderstorms, Sackman noted, “It ended up being a really nice evening.”
Terry Roping Club’s attendance numbers for Sunday’s Ranch Rodeo were again strong this year, with 312 people filling the grandstands, a number similar from last year. Saturday evening’s dance featuring area band Spectrum brought in 159 people.
Popular grounds entertainment included a laser tag game, that was brought in from a Nevada company, as well as a small petting zone, set up by Les Thomason. 
Fairgoers also enjoyed four concession stands offering a variety of menu items from local clubs and businesses. The four concession stands were manned by: County 4H Clubs, Terry High School’s Close-up, Shari Robertson and Miki Lantis. 
Putting together an entertaining fair each year includes recruiting the help of many volunteers, the fair manager noted. “Lots of people help out,” she said. “It’s great” to have so many volunteers.
Another factor, of course, Sackman noted, is climate conditions. “I’m always glad when the weather participates.” 

Published August 11,2011

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