New events, nice weather draw big crowds to the Douglas County FairMaybe it was the corn dogs. Or the mild, sunshiny weather. Or all the fun new things to see and do.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Maybe it was the corn dogs. Or the mild, sunshiny weather. Or all the fun new things to see and do.
Whatever the reason, the Douglas County Fair was a big success, drawing about 50,000 people during its four-day run that ended Sunday.
That’s about 1,000 more than last year. The Douglas County Agricultural Association was more than pleased with the big turnout.
“It was a terrific success,” said the association’s secretary, Dale Buchholz on Monday. “Everything we tried that was new went great and the old standbys were just as popular as ever.”
One of the new events that drew a packed house into the Erickson Pavilion was Mutton Bustin’ – a chance for children to ride on top of a sheep for a bouncy, adventurous ride. The kids wore helmets and padding as a safety precaution. The rides were timed and prizes awarded to the children who stayed on the sheep the longest.
Buchholz credited Kathy Franson for suggesting the Mutton Bustin’ event. It’s been around for a few years at other events in the region and she thought it would be fun to add it to the Douglas County Fair, he said. “We’ll do it again next year without a doubt, and wear those sheep out,” Buchholz said.
Some other new highlights included new carnival rides, three new food vendors, a Lego competition and other new children’s activities, and an appearance by the Life Link III helicopter.
Long-time fair events like the tractor and truck pull and the demolition derby were also popular, Buchholz noted.
But perhaps the biggest contributing factor for the excellent turnout was something the ag association had no control over – Mother Nature. “That was the most beautiful four days of weather we’ve had in a long time,” Buchholz said.
The vast majority of those attending the fair left with good memories. According to an ag association’s survey, about 68 percent of those responding were “very satisfied” while another 30 percent were satisfied. Roughly 2 percent said they were unsatisfied and the main reason they gave was that they didn’t like paying a gate charge to get into the fair, Buchholz said.
He added that the gate fees are needed to help pay for the fair expenses and make improvements every year. Without a fee, the ag association would have to ask the county for money, which would increase taxes, or start a beer garden.
With the 2011 Douglas County Fair in the history books, ag association members will turn their attention on a new challenge – planning next year’s event, or as Buchholz put it, “361 days of planning followed by four days of organized chaos.”
With so much planning and energy going into it, it’s no wonder that the Douglas County Fair has been ranked as the 10th largest county fair in the state.
More photos (available for purchase!) from the 2011 Douglas County Fair: