Jul. 22—The Union County Fair began Wednesday and will continue through Tuesday at the Union County fairgrounds in Afton. Union County Fair board member Ben Adamson said this year's fair was shortened by a day to accommodate exhibitors and attendees alike.
"In terms of the fair, last year we ran what was called a show-and-go format which meant the animals were not really housed on the grounds just to keep people off of the grounds," Adamson said. "This year, it's just like a normal fair, so livestock's coming in on Thursday and Friday and will be there throughout their shows."
Adamson also said the show-and-go format was paired with their complicity to the state's COVID-19 guidelines, ensuring the showcasing of animals would limit visitors' time roaming around and potentially spreading the virus.
"Some people like it, other people didn't like it simply because it kind of took away from the county fair effect with the animals being on the fairgrounds all the time and all of that," Adamson said. "For those people that show competitively, they go to what we consider jackpot shows or point shows, that's what they're used to doing is showing off their trailer, they show up to the grounds, they show and then they go home. Some people like it, some people didn't, so in order to put on a fair last year, we thought it was in our best interest to not have the animals on the grounds and have them congested in the barns."
Chopping down the extent of the fair was done in the interest of the attendees.
"We shortened the fair by one day this year, we had several exhibitor's families over the last four or five years say the fair was too long, so we did take a day out which means it's going to be jam-packed with something going on pretty much all the time during the fair," Adamson said.
The exhibitors needed relief from their showtime schedules, which was why the fair was extended in the first place.
"Four or five years ago we added a day to the fair because the swine show and the sheep and goat show were all on the same day and that show started lasting until six or seven o'clock at night and some of the exhibitors were up working with animals at five in the morning and not getting done until seven, eight o'clock at night and so in order to break those two up, we added a day to the fair and we kind of moved the fair more over the weekend."
Adamson said the fair achieved a balance in meeting the interests of both visitors and exhibitors.
"We still kept the swine show from the sheep and the goat show, this just means it's going to be a lot more active because sheep and goats are checking in on Thursday and showing on Friday," Adamson said. "Things checking in Thursday night and Friday morning are showing on Saturday. Cattle's checking in on Friday, they're showing on Sunday. So, there's just not going to be one day where it's kind of dead, where a couple years ago when we did that, we didn't really show much on Sunday."
Adamson also said fair organizers are trying to breaking in pre-4-H kids this year to maintain and expand the fair's numbers.
"Yes, we're trying to reach out and get younger Clover Kids to get involved so our numbers stay strong. One of the new things this year is the Clover Kids program started what we call a, 'clover buddy program,' where the Clover Kids, that's kind of pre-4-H, pre-county fair kids will buddy up with a more junior or senior type exhibitor and they'll have a show with a certain species, hopefully to gain interest, to keep our 4-H numbers strong."
Although the majority of the fair is a livestock showcase, the fair will still host a diverse array of entertainment.
"Thursday night's our queen coronation, Friday night's live music and a concert, Saturday's truck pull, Sunday's the demo derby and Monday and Tuesday are the rodeo."