10/02/08 — After hours at the fair

View Archive

After hours at the fair

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on October 2, 2008 1:48 PM

Lt. Sherwood Daly may have been one of just a few people at the fair after closing hours, but he had plenty of companions to keep him company.

Standing in the reception area of the office building, he smiles as he and Deputy Randy Thompson wait to clock out after their 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

Part of their job included checking on the animals through out the night to make sure they were safe.

It's a job Daly enjoys for one reason in particular -- he enjoys talking with the animals.

"I had the goats talking to me," he says smiling and then imitates the sound they make.

In the poultry tent, Daly got a response from "a little ol' white duck.

"He's humble," Daly says. "Most of them will peck."

Instead, this one stuck his beak through the cage and let the lieutenant pet it.

A donkey went a step further, sticking out his nose for a rub and smiling at the officers.

Daly and Thompson, both employees of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, are among the people most folks don't see but who play important roles in making the fair a success.

Dwight Wynn arrived around 7 a.m. and, with the assistance of wife Margaret, went to work cleaning the poultry cages. The cleaning is the first thing he does in the morning and the last thing he does in the afternoon. When he is working alone, it can take up to 3 1/2 hours to clean. With the help of his wife, the work gets done much more quickly.

That's particularly important in the morning because Wynn wants things ready for the school children, who will arrive at 9 a.m.

It can get dirty.

"A duck is messy," he says as he pulls a pan filled with brown water from a cage. As he empties, cleans and refills it, some of the ducks squawk at him. One, after getting the clean water, begins drinking, checking its surroundings and drinking again.

Not everyone who shows up before opening hours is an employee. Owners of the many of the animals come to clean the stalls and feed their livestock.

Among them is Rose Massey of the Grantham community. She has come to the fair after finishing her shift at Wal-Mart and is cleaning the stalls of her seven miniature horses, one miniature donkey and one miniature cow.

The horses and donkey are quite interested in what she is doing.

As she rakes, Awesome, a 4-year-old mare, keeps checking the wheelbarrow Ms. Massey has with her. A sniff is enough to let her know that the contents are from cleaning, not feeding, but she periodically goes back to check again, apparently hoping things have changed.

When she's not looking at the wheelbarrow, she's trying to get out of the cage.

"They're just like children," Ms. Massey said as she prevents Awesome from escaping.

Moving to 5-year-old Chantilly's cage, she rakes under the close observation of the next cage's occupants: her 3-month-olds, Merribelle the donkey and Moriah the horse.

Their pen will be cleaned next, and it's possible that Merribelle, dressed in a rose-colored sweater for warmth after having a bath, will give Ms. Massey a "donkey hug," she said. That's when Merribelle wraps her neck around Ms. Massey's leg.

The hug doesn't happen this morning, but both Merribelle and Moriah do come up to her for attention and affection, which she gladly offers.

While Ms. Massey is cleaning,

her husband Alton arrives with food for the animals.

As the morning progresses, more people, feed, shovels and wheelbarrows can be seen.

As the animals are tended to, so are the grounds.

Don Stroud, with Double Duce Arena, and his crew arrive around 8 a.m. to take down the bull riding chutes and panels.

Stroud is quite happy this morning. The bull rides, with bulls provided by Lockamy Livestock of Benson, drew a nice crowd over the past two nights.

Now the space is needed for something else.

Stroud and his crew have brought two trailers and the fair staff are letting them use their tractor with a front-end loader.

It won't take more than about an hour to take everything down.

The men begin by untying the ropes holding the panels together. That's the easy part. The panels can weigh up to 100 pounds each, and the chutes weigh much more than that.

But Stroud, a life-long cowboy, doesn't mind at all.

As the men pull down the panels, Lillian Outlaw is in a women's bathroom, scrubbing away. Stephanie Jones is outside of the fair office, cleaning its glass doors and more people are arriving, preparing for the day.

The trash will be collected and hauled away. On a typical day, there's a lot of it.

Last year, 8 tons were collected.