The current tight economy is inspiring a lot of Americans to get back to simple pleasures.
Interest in home gardens and canning reportedly are on the rise. Families in search of low-cost entertainment are staying at home for a family game night or movie night.
This week, area residents also have the opportunity to take advantage of a traditional event that is attracting record crowds in some parts of the country: the county fair.
A story in Monday’s USA Today noted the popularity of county fairs for people seeking an inexpensive outing close to home. Missouri’s Boone County Fair, which charges a $5 admission fee, had a 47 percent increase in gate receipts this year. Attendance was up 30 percent at the Waukesha County Fair in Wisconsin, including a record crowd on the opening day, when the admission charge was just $1 instead of the regular $9.
In recognition of the current economy the East Otter Tail County Fair in Minnesota, which has charged a $6 admission fee in past years, made the fair free this year.
The good news for Douglas County residents is that, although the local fair no longer is known as the Douglas County Free Fair, it has a long, proud history of not charging admission for many events.
A number of events already are under way at the fairgrounds at 2100 Harper St. Many 4-H exhibits already have been judged and are awaiting fair visitors. There still is plenty of opportunity, however, to enjoy free events and entertainment through this weekend.
There’s the antique tractor pull tonight, the bale throwing contest on Friday and the “Hot Rod Garden Tractor Pull” on Saturday. Tonight’s 3rd Annual Backseat Drivers Competition sounds like it could be worth a trip to the fairgrounds. Bands also are scheduled to provide free entertainment each evening. The daytime schedule on Friday and Saturday includes a host of family events like a petting zoo, pony rides, a turtle race and the pedal tractor pull. The full schedule is available at www.dgcountyfair.com.
The carnival at the fairgrounds and the popular Demolition Derby on Friday night provide some relatively low-cost entertainment, or you can just enjoy looking at exhibits produced by county 4-H’ers and other exhibitors from throughout the county.
The Douglas County fair board has worked hard to keep the fair up to date, but, really, one of the best things about the fair is that it invites people to put their cell phones away and enjoy an atmosphere filled with reminders of simpler times when people knew how to work hard and then get together with friends and neighbors to make their own fun.
We don’t know whether any fair attendance records will be set in Douglas County this weekend — or if anyone’s even counting — but the fair certainly has plenty to offer families and individuals looking for some inexpensive, down-home fun.