Every year around this time, I often hear this: “The County Fair is not what it used to be.
I am okay. Then again, I don’t know of anything – or anyone, for that matter – that is 85 years old and has remained the same for four and a half decades.
I have a long history with the Logan County Fair, having started going there with friends during my high school days in the ’60s. We usually limited our night visits to the carnival halfway through, probably because it’s there. that girls in our age group could be found in droves.
Years later, as a member of the Courier’s press team, I rarely had time to walk halfway. I spent hours each year near the cattle show barns, taking pictures of every 4-H exhibitor who won a blue ribbon with a cattle driveway – everything from a rabbit, chicken, turkey, goose or whatever. species of waterfowl and, of course, lots of pigs, cattle (including lots of dairy cows and heifers) and sheep.
This was before the advent of digital photography, so I consumed many rolls of film during the week of the fair. The first few years of media coverage saw me lug around a Rolleiflex camera, which had become somewhat of standard equipment in photojournalism. Its popularity was based on the physical size of the camera – much smaller than the old standard it replaced, the Speed Graflex, which was large, bulky and required the user to change the film sheet from 4 inches by 5 inches with each shot. Someone later designed and marketed a roll film for this monster.
Lucky for me, The Courier at that time still kept Speed Graflex cameras in their gear stash, but I never had to use one at the County Fair. The Rolleiflex used exclusively 120 film, usually in 12-frame format. Later, the Courier’s camera equipment caught up with modern times and was fitted with the popular 35mm cameras. They were much smaller, including the size of the negative, handled roll film up to 36 frames, and were very convenient to use, even in low-light environments.
This evolution of cameras probably took less than a decade, and it was 10 years marked by very little change in the face of the county fair. Likewise, the following decade continued on the same path at the fair. By that time, I knew most of the livestock exhibitors, their families, and the day and time of each show. Back then, even with long hot days, sometimes rainy and muddy, I really enjoyed the fair week.
My own two children joined the County 4-H program and became exhibitors at the show, mainly as part of the cattle contest. My son won both a calf steer and a greased pig on 4-H nights in front of the grandstand. Needless to say, their participation made fair week even busier for me. But I wouldn’t trade that time for nothing.
That was in the ’70s and early’ 80s. Fast forward a few decades and visit the fair in 2021. Of course, there is still time for that, but not by much. But the last two days of the show are full of activities.
The popular open and junior beef show dominates the ranching area on the north side of the fairgrounds while the Doug DeMay Memorial Chili Cookoff takes place at the K of C Beer Barn. Departure time for both is 8:00 a.m.
Other activities include the My Favorite Pie competition and auction and a bag tournament. The annual fair talent competition begins at noon and country artist Josh Turner and his band take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the last day of the fair, features the Cake Classic, the 4th annual cattle auction. -H award winning and popular Demolition Derby, which starts at 2pm. The halfway carnival opens at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that the fair, as it always has been, has a wide range of activities that all ages and families can enjoy. In this sense, the fair has retained the same flavor that it has always had.
While the number of trade exhibitors has eroded over the years, it is more about how products and services are marketed these days than the popularity of the show.
I certainly enjoy the same fair trade food every year. For me, the perfect meal for a fair week is a sandwich from The Walleye Wagon and an order of vinegar and salt soaked fries from the Culler family.
But for me the only constant that I enjoy attending the fair is the people I see there every year, whether they are Fair members and volunteers or just the good people. from Logan County who attend each year.
Just shaking hands and saying hello to old friends puts the finishing touches on fair week. Hope to see you there.
Dan Tackett is a retired editor of The Courier. He can be contacted at [email protected]