Fair weather fairs

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Browsers got an early start on the boots along West Grand.

It was almost as if Mother Nature was expunging a guilty conscience.

After the day of cold, drenching rain that doused expectations in 2007, picture-perfect weather on Saturday drew large crowds for the Arts & Crafts Fair in Hillsboro and Art in the Park in Marion.

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One hungry fair-goer checks out the homemade cuisine being being offered beyond the sign promoting the First Mennonite (Church) Cafe.

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A happy buyer totes her scarecrow-like figurine

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Peggy Goertzen (lower right) dishes out smoke sausage being sold by Friends of the Museum

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Above several men gather to watch a stone sculptor demonstrate his craft in Marion's scenic Central Park.

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Women pause during their stroll past the many booths that clamored for their attention.

In Hillsboro, the police department estimated the turnout to be between 40,000 and 45,000 people during the course of the day. About 280 vendors?roughly the same as last year? set up booths to display their wares, and the number of local food vendors held steady as well, according to fair organizers.

Although it was too early to get a feel for how well sales actually went, most vendors reported having a good day?the best, in fact, since the 2001 fair, which followed on the heels of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, according to one vendor.

It was Judy Grant?s first fair as director. She began her new assignment in May.

?The responses I was getting (from vendors) sounded very positive,? she said. ?It just seemed to be flowing really well?but we had such beautiful weather. That was the best part.

?I feel it turned out to be a very successful day. When they came to get their sales report, (vendors) seemed to be very positive?that it was a good thing, and they were ready to go for next year.?

And how did she survive her first fair?

?It was amazing how well it went off, considering I wasn?t sure what all was going to happen,? Grant said. ?This town has a lot of wonderful volunteers willing to do their part?and the businesses downtown seem to be quite responsive to it, too. That?s really cool.?

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