Fair changes draw more people, organizers say

Jim Christensen of McPherson and Kodi Panzer of Hillsboro run past one of the carnival rides during the premiere Barn Burner 5K Fun Run/Walk Saturday morning. The race started by the fair arena and the course wound its way through the Sports Complex and then through streets of Hillsboro.Benefiting from a couple of breaks in the summer heat, plus a roster of new activities on Saturday, the organizer-in-chief of last week?s Marion County Fair said he is initially pleased with the attendance and participation at the four-day event.
?As a whole, the fair went very well,? said Myron Regier, who is in his first year as fair board president. ?Obviously, we were blessed by cool weather Wednesday and Thursday. Friday got a little warmer, but for Satur?day?s parade we had the cloud cover.?
Prior to the official Monday evening wrap-up session, Regier said he felt overall participation was higher this year.
?I think the demo derby and the rodeos had better attendance,? he said. ?In the tractor pull we had better participation. We probably pulled 45 minutes longer than we normally do. So that all went well.?
Marion County commissioners Roger Fleming and Randy Dallke share a light moment during the Celebrity Goat Milking Contest Saturday forenoon. On the other side of the goat is Commissioner Dan Holub. The contest featured eight teams with three members for each team.One of the big changes this year was moving the parade from early Wednes?day evening to 10 a.m. Satur?day. Regier said he was concerned about the impact of the move on opening-night attendance.
?That was the one thing I had worries about?but the foods building, they actually ran out of food,? he said.
?I think numbers were every bit as good around the fairgrounds,? he added. ?We just had a lot of people running around the fairgrounds looking at exhibits and so forth.?
Regier said carnival officials were pleased with ticket sales for Wednesday and Thursday, but he had not yet heard the overall financial assessment.
As for the parade, overcast skies tempered an otherwise hot-weather forecast.
?We had some mixed reviews, but most people thought the attendance was about as good, if not maybe a little better,? Regier said.
Mesa Merrell cools off on the Wet ?N Wild water slide sponsored by the Marion County FFA chapters Saturday afternoon. The event was scheduled for two hours, but went an additional hour because of the long lines of participants.?It?s a little hard to gauge because we used to have it on Wednesday, where everybody sat on one side of the street. Now, they were on both sides of the street.?
In addition to moving the parade to Saturday, organizers added several new events to draw people to the fairgrounds on what normally had been a quiet day prior to the fair-ending demolition derby in the evening.
Among the new events were a 5-kilometer Barn Burner run/walk and a 4-H and FFA livestock showcase in the morning, followed by a celebrity goat-milking contest, a box turtle race and a ?Wet ?n Wild Days? water event in the afternoon.
?Some of our Saturday morning events went well and some not so well,? Regier said. ?We kind of anticipated that, and we?ll regroup for next year as far as what we?ll do.
?Saturday was pretty slow (for the carnival),? he added. ?Of course, the heat in the afternoon and the demo derby in the evening?it?s just hard to have the carnival going when that?s going on.?
Other Saturday events were relatively unscathed by the warming weather.
?The goat milking was just a hit,? Regier said. ?The Wet ?n Wild deal was too?we were planning on two hours, but they went three because they had big lines.
?The turtle race?none of us really knew how that would go off,? he said. ?I haven?t seen a box turtle in years, and we ended up with 16 box turtles.?
Regier said the positive momentum was reflected in the 4-H portion of the fair, too.
?For the 4-H part of the show, several of the livestock species were up,? he said. ?I think only one of them was down?but that?s kind of cyclical anyway.
?But all the things we did worked out pretty good.?

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