The 2023 Douglas County Fair, now with more demolition derby

photo by: Mike Yoder

Demolition derby fans fill the outdoor arena on Friday, July 29, 2022, at the Douglas County Fair.

The Douglas County Fair Board has added a second night of one of the annual event’s most popular features with an eye toward closing the fair with a big night.

Candice Lavalette, executive director of the Douglas County Fair Board, said that this year the popular demolition derby again will be featured in the fairgrounds’ Outdoor Arena on its customary Friday evening but a second running of the “many cars enter, one car leaves” auto mayhem will be offered on the fair’s closing Saturday night of July 30.

“We listened,” Lavalette said. “We’ve tried a number of things for Saturday night, including the bull ride the past two years. We’re trying something a little bit different, hoping for two great nights.”

The second night will have the same rules and categories as the Friday derby, and many of the same entrants, Lavalette said.

“They can participate on Friday and again on Saturday,” she said. “They have Friday night and Saturday to repair their cars for the second derby.”

Of course, the two evenings of vehicular demolition are not the only entertainment lined up for the Outdoor Arena or the fair, which will begin at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2100 Harper St. For a complete online fair schedule and more visit

The fair will get started with the annual 4-H pet show on Saturday, July 15. Th next two weeks will keep the county’s 4-H’ers busy with displaying or entering different projects, but the fair really throws open the gates to county residents starting Tuesday, July 25. Lavalette said entertainment that Tuesday night will include the fair’s first-ever family movie night with a showing of “Back to the Future” at 8 p.m. in the Outdoor Arena. The evening will also feature the first of the local bands performing nightly from 7 to 10 p.m. on the fairgrounds’ stage. The “Touch a Truck” display will be on hand to give children a up-close look at fire engines and other pieces of mechanized equipment from 6 to 8 p.m. in the fairgrounds’ black top area. Animal lovers of all ages are invited to get personal with creatures from the farm from 1 to 9 p.m. in Building B. The petting zoo will remain open during those hours through the remainder of the fair.

Wednesday, July 26, marks the arrival of Moore’s Greater Shows Carnival, which will offer rides and games from 6 to 11 p.m. for the remaining evenings of the fair. The carnival will also be open from 1 to 5 p.m. on the fair’s closing day. Providing the entertainment n the Outdoor Arena that evening will be a garden tractor sled pull.

The fair will offer numerous opportunities for attendees to try their hands in competition, from hay bale throwing to cornhole tossing. Lavalette said all county bakers are invited to enter the fair board president’s pie contests to be held daily from Tuesday, July 25, through Saturday, July 29. Pies for the contest can be delivered from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Dreher Building.

Although there are numerous open classes, it is the 4-H competitions that are at the heart of the fair. Nickie Harding, 4-H youth agent for Douglas County K-State Extension, said she did not know at press time how many of the about 400 county 4-H’ers would participate in the fair or how many total projects they would enter. She did, however, predict participation would continue to bounce back from the downturn from COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.

“Last year, 4-H participation was right back up there to what we used to see,” Harding said. “I anticipate the same kind of numbers this year. I think we’ll see a full fairgrounds come the end of July.”

Harding said the fair remains popular as the highlight of the 4-H year. The week includes highlights of any county fair such as the market steer finals, which is part of the livestock judging show that starts at 1:30 p.m Thursday, July 27 in the Community Building and the livestock auction set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, July 29, at the Indoor Pavilion. All competitions are the culmination of months of work spent working with livestock and preparing projects in subjects as varied as photography and entomology. The public can view livestock and projects at the fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Wednesday, July 26 through Saturday, July 29.

“There’s a great deal of excitement,” she said of county 4-H’ers. “They look forward to sharing what they’ve learned and accomplished and displaying showcasing what they’ve learned to judges and the public.”


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