Douglas County Fair organizers expect record crowds
photo by: Ashley Golledge
The public’s pent-up desire to get out and enjoy traditional community events will help fuel attendance at this year’s Douglas County Fair, organizers of the annual event predict.
Mike Kelso, a longtime Douglas County Fair Board member, said he has already witnessed the public’s response to the relaxing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
“I worked concessions last month at the (Eudora) CPA Picnic,” he said. “From what I saw, people are just ready to get out. I think we will have record crowds every night.”
The first fair events will be the hand pet and cat show at 9 a.m. and dog show at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at Building 21 North at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2120 Harper St. There will be a few other 4-H fashion events the following week. On Monday, July 26, open-class shows will be held before a cascade of 4-H shows and entertainment events start Tuesday, July 27, and continue through the fair’s conclusion on Saturday, July 31.
All this activity coming to the fairgrounds is in sharp contrast to last year’s county fair when it was one of many annual community events that were either canceled or greatly altered because of the pandemic. In 2020, all fair events were called off except the annual 4-H show, and attendance to those shows were limited to participants and a few of their close friends and family.
This year’s fair will be open to all with no COVID-19 restrictions unless pandemic guidelines change, Kelso said.
“It will be as normal as we can make it,” he said in early July. “Right now there are no restrictions. Who knows what will happen in two weeks?”
Kaitlyn Peine, 4-H youth development agent with Douglas County’s K-State Research and Extension office, said she has already seen evidence of a post-pandemic rebound. There will be 1,400 4-H’ers exhibiting 4,200 different projects at this year’s fair, she said.
“That’s up slightly from 2019,” she said. “It’s definitely up from last year. I think our kids are excited to have the public back to the fair and show their work off to a larger audience.”
Peine said one of her favorite events is the open house show at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 24, and the 4-H horse show set for 9 a.m. Sunday, July 25. Both shows will be in the Community Building.
“I came from a horse showing background, so I really enjoy the horse show,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity for equestrians to show off their skills to the public.”
Those partial to cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry, rabbits and llamas can view their favorite animals when the livestock barns open to the public from Tuesday, July 27, to Saturday, July 31.
In a scheduling change, all open-class exhibits for fine arts, flowers, food preparation, food preservation, horticulture and crops and quilts are to be entered from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 25, in Building 21, Peine said. Judging of those exhibits will start at 8 a.m. Monday, July 26.
The fair board has added one new element to this year’s event, Kelso said.
“We are having a band playing Friday night,” he said. “We’ve never had a band on Friday before.”
The bands playing are Rich Johnson After Midnight, 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 27; the Kenny Gambler Band, 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 28; Quite Frankly, 7 to 10 p.m., Thursday, July 29; Ronni Ward Band, 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 30; and Hunter Hathcoat, 9 to midnight Saturday, July 31. All five bands will perform at the fairgrounds stage, which was one of the fairgrounds upgrades completed in 2017.
The three big fair events are those scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at the Outdoor Arena.
The Antique Tractor Pull will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 29. The always popular Demolition Derby will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 30, and the Bull Bash will start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 31. The fair board added the bull riding event in 2019.
Moore’s Greater Shows will offer carnival fare from 6 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, and Thursday, July 29; 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, July 30; and from 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, July 31, with Family Day from 1 to 5 p.m.
Children’s fair events are not limited to carnival rides, Peine said. Children will be invited to check out farm equipment, firetrucks and other emergency vehicles at the Touch a Truck event from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 27, she said. There also will be a petting zoo from 1 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, Thursday, July 29, and Friday, July 30; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, in Building 8. There will also be pony rides available from 4 to 10 p.m., Wednesday, July 28, Thursday, July 29, Friday, July 30, and Saturday, July 31, at Building 8.
For the complete fair schedule, visit https://dgcountyfair.com/.