By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
If you haven’t been to the Carter County Fair in a while, this year might be the year to go back. Not only have they done extensive work this summer to address issues with drainage that have turned the midway into a swamp in years past, and taken steps to improve parking, they’ve got a few new attractions joining the returning favorites. This includes a new carnival ride provider – with a gorgeous vintage carousel, among others.
But the big draw this year has to be the rodeo.
The fair isn’t just bringing back barrel racing and bull riding, though. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Carter County Tourism, they’re bringing them back at no extra charge. Fans will be able to enjoy the competitive events with their general admission ticket.
“That’s going to be the big, super finale for Fair Week. It’ll be Saturday night and folks can come in their boots and their hats,” said fair board vice president Jill York.
“It will be bull riding and barrel racing,” she continued. “And for folks that do enjoy the thrill of it all, and think that bulls are all that’s going on… they have not seen anybody barrel ride at what looks like 900 miles per hour on those hairpin turns.”
“We’re excited,” she continued, “because there are actually quite a few folks who do that locally and are looking forward to participating in that. But it’s going to be a great show on Saturday night.”
York said that with the expected increase in traffic related to the rodeo’s return, the improvements to the ground were especially important.
“We’re very pleased about our board members work on the grounds out there,” she said. “There’s been a whole lot of earth moving. There’s been a lot of drainage put in. We’re trying to dry up foot traffic areas out there, and so put a lot of emphasis on raising some areas, and draining some others. So, when you come to the fair this year, we may bring you in a little differently to the main gate, and different things like that, just in an effort to make sure our foot traffic travels are a little more advantageous (and take advantage of) some of these new improvements.”
The only folks who should need muck boots, she teased, are the ones working the livestock.
With the wet summer we’ve had so far, she explained, the fair board members with construction backgrounds working on the drainage and earth moving have already seen the improvements making a difference. Despite this, she said, they’re still crossing their fingers for “a hot and dry August.”
They’re also welcoming a new carnival provider.
“We’re excited about that,” York said. “It’s another Kentucky based family amusement (company), and I’m a big carousel fan, and they have a big, beautiful, old-fashioned kind of carousel.”
But, she added, in addition to this and “the normal assortment of kiddie rides,” they’ll be bringing “some thrill rides for the teenagers and adrenaline junkies.”
The carnival will join “a lot of events you’ve come to know and love,” she continued. This includes the beauty pageant for Ms. Carter County Fair – which takes place off-site at West Carter High School on Tuesday, August 8. The pageants are open to residents of any county that touches Carter County, with participants grouped by age.
Other events scheduled for the week include the livestock exhibition and auction on Tuesday, Tri-State MX Motocross and the Dino-Roar Show on Wednesday and Thursday, FTC Pro Wrestling on Thursday and Friday, demolition derby on Friday, and the rodeo on Saturday night.
Exhibits and carnival rides will be open throughout the week, along with the petting zoo. Then there is fair-i-coke (karaoke), the talent show, the Papa John’s pizza eating contest, and more.
For a full schedule of events, you can visit the fair online at cartercountyfair.org, or follow them on Facebook.
But, entertainment aside, the roots of the county fair are in agriculture, and York encourages anyone who hasn’t before to come out and support the youth exhibitors and participate in the livestock auction.
“The county fair (traditionally) was for everyone to show off the very best of their produce, their animals, and their talents,” York said. “So, we’re proud to be the one that see ourselves as innovators, but we keep one foot back where we came from; the agrarian fairs.”
York invited the community to come out and participate in the auction, even if just to watch.
“When you speak about the purpose of the county fair, for our livestock exhibitors, this is the best lesson in how actual agribusiness works – from the inception of buying that animal and raising it, feeding it, grooming it, to transporting it and showing it. Then, if you’ve done well in all those components and it garners praise and prizes, then you send it across the auction block where it will go on to a cattle yard or to a processing facility… So, it’s a true living education for them in that.”
If you choose to bid on an animal, she said, you don’t have to take possession of it immediately and arrangements can be made to process or deliver the animal for you.
“That’s a great evening and you walk away in a win-win situation,” York said. “Not only did you enjoy yourself, but you really help the young person along their way towards success.”
York also encouraged those who are itching to perform to consider the talent show.
“For folks who want to test their fortitude toward performance in public, we are the place for you to get a good start. We’re a friendly crowd, and there are divisions (children, teen, and adult), and folks can win actual cash for their performances.”
Little is off limits for the talent show, as long as it is family friendly.
“We like bands, soloists, vocalists, jugglers, ventriloquists, you name it. It’s all about getting out there and showing the world what you can do.”
York, and fair board president Kim Flaugher also extended their greatest appreciation to the fair board members who did the work on the drainage.
“Chris Eden, Will Davis, Charles Hall, and Bill Oakley, those guys… really deserve the shout-outs this year for their efforts on reclaiming the grounds and installing the tiling and things like that.”
Booth space and sponsorships are still available at the fair.
Admission each evening is $12, carnival rides and all entertainment included, with the exception of the Tuesday night livestock exhibition and auction. Admission that evening is only $5.
For more information, or to contact the fair board, visit them online at www.cartercountyfair.org.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org