Fair expectations

Even under the best of circumstances, county fair planners are challenged annually to create an entertainment environment that will attract a general public that seems underwhelmed by anything less than a Worlds of Fun experience. In a perfect world, their efforts should be rewarded proportionally with public response. If that were the case, organizers of the Marion County Fair, set for July 24-29, could expect sellout crowds because our fair board invests countless hours to plan an affordable entertainment lineup that should rival the enthusiasm 4-H members show for their exhibits and contests—and all within easy driving distance.

But it’s not a perfect world. Some fair-goers still recall the quality carnival that came in 2014, and fear those days may be gone forever. The truth is, our county fair simply doesn’t generate the kind of revenues most carnivals need to make it worth their while.

And, true to form, as the fair draws near so do forecasts for the return of triple-digit temperatures. As solid as the entertainment schedule is…well, an air-conditioned environment in front of the TV is sometimes a more powerful draw.

All that said, we tip our hat to the fair board for trying new things. This year, bouncy houses will make their debut. Kids and youth have an opportunity for a fun time with friends for an affordable price.

Even with the challenges, the Marion County Fair is still a great event and a family tradition. We encourage folks across the county to take it in. If you feel you must stay home, spend at least part of that time praying for a break in the heat. It’s only fair. —DR