Fair weather friends

Sienna Kaufman of Durham rounds the final barrel and heads for the finish during the barrel-racing competition at the rodeo on Thursday evening.A break from the usual late-July heat is being credited with heating up participation at the 83rd annual Marion County Fair last week.

?Attendance was up this year across the board, and I believe a lot of that was due to the blessing of cooler weather with rain,? said Kelli Savage, fair director. ?It is a far cry from last year and 2011 when it was 115 degree for the parade.?

This year, temperatures peaked in the mid-80s, and for the most part the welcomed rain showers did not have a significant impact on the evening entertainment.

?Obviously, there were some concerns regarding arena events due to threats of possible severe weather,? Savage said. ?But thankfully we dodged that bullet and continued on.?

?I?ll take the weather we had for the fair this year for next year?s fair as well,? she added. ?But I also understand that is completely out of my hands. So we will just have to see what we are blessed with next year.?

Savage cited several highlights, including the annual parade and kids pedal-tractor pull on Wednesday, the rodeo on Thursday and Friday, the truck and antique tractor pull on Friday and the demolition derby on Saturday.

?We had almost 100 kids for the pedal pull, and there was some great competition between our participants,? Savage said.

Kate Maxfield, Hillsboro, enjoys the Emprise Bank free watermelon feed at the Marion County Fairgrounds on Wednesday.Commissioner Dan Holub gets a dousing at the ?Royal Flush? dunk tank. Commissioners raised $102 toward a $1,000 goal for marble state map project in Topeka.Colby Suderman, 5, of Hillsboro puts his feet to the medal during the Kids Pedal-Tractor Pull on Wednesday evening. Around 100 kids participated in the event, with age-group winners qualifying for the state fair.Nearing the end of Wednesday's parade route, Chris Morrison, her 10-month-old daughter Kaylie and even Doolin, the horse, appear to be more than ready to reach the finish line.

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