The Douglas County Free Fair has been around so long --probably more than 100 years, but even organizers can't say for sure -- that Douglas Countians are forgetting to go to its signature events, such as the Open Horse Show.
With more youth- and entertainment-oriented activities, organizers are hoping this will be the year for change at the fair, which takes place at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 21st and Harper streets.
Sunday's horse show will be a bit zanier than usual.
One class will require riders to balance an egg on a spoon while maneuvering obstacles. Another, "musical flags," mimics musical chairs. Young riders can experience their first horse shows in the new novice-level classes, and this year children under 6 years can show off their best stick horses in a special class.
The 4-H horse show starts at 9 a.m. today.
Few people attended last year's horse shows, which are free, said Gretchen Brumm, co-superintendent of the Open Horse Show.
Fair activity picks up later in the week with open class, nonanimal registration from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. It's also the first night for churning stomachs on rides at the Reed Carnival, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Also notable: dairy goat milking contests. At 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, contestants will race to fill buckets with milk. Only 4-H'ers who've paid time in the goat arena during Wednesday's judging show need apply.
Llamas will prance through Douglas County arenas for the fourth consecutive year. The Andean pack animals will be tested on their showmanship, their ability to relate to humans, their agility and their willingness to submit to wearing a silly, themed costume.
Their popularity has grown each year, said Margret Kalb, the Douglas County Fair Board's executive secretary.
"They're trying to get that as a recognized 4-H project around the state," she said.
Moneymakers this year include musical performances by country musicians Dierks Bentley, Ricochet and Dixie Road beginning at 6 p.m. next Saturday. The demolition derby is at 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets to the Bentley-headlined concert are $15 in advance and $20 at the door; derby tickets are $10.
For the most experienced of fair-goers, the most electricity comes from young exhibitors who've toiled over their rockets, pets and art projects.
"I enjoy the whole fair, I really do," said Doug Rich, 20-year veteran and fair board president. "But probably the most exciting time will be on Tuesday when the kids show up with the projects they've been working on for months."