09/22/13 — Ready, set, fair

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Ready, set, fair

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 22, 2013 1:50 AM

DUDLEY -- Seeing the colorful carnival rides starting to go up at the Wayne County Fairgrounds this past week is building excitement for Thursday's opening of the 65th annual Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, Manager Eddie Pitzer said.

"They start seeing stuff go up and it draws a lot of attention to it," he said. "Of course we are having a lot of excitement bout it. The phones have been ringing quite bit with people calling about entering stuff. They want to know when the fair will be open.

"We open Thursday at 4 o'clock, but actually we start taking exhibits in on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. We also take them in Thursday morning from 8 to 10. That is a time change, because normally we have gone from 8 a.m. to noon. That gives us time to get the judging done with these new exhibits to be able to get this stuff arranged so we can open."

The gates will open at 4 p.m. daily during the week. The gate will open at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The fair runs through Oct. 5.

Many questions surround advanced ticket sales, Pitzer said. Powers Great American Midway will have 48 different carnival rides, he said.

"We are hoping that will work out good," he said. "That gives them the opportunity that they can buy their tickets ahead of time for either the gate or the wristbands for the rides. If they buy online, they bring their coupon to the gate, and they can walk right in to the front of the line. We scan it, and they are right in the gate or they get their wristband and they are ready to ride."

To purchase the tickets online go to waynefair.com and click on the button for advanced tickets.

Tickets this year at the gate are $7 for adults and $4 for students in grades kindergarten through 12. Online they are $6 and $3, respectively.

Also, the $25 ride wristbands are $20 plus a convenience fee that is paid to Etix that is handling the online sales.

It is Pitzer's first year as manager, but he has spent the last 22 years as secretary/treasurer of the sponsoring Wayne County Livestock Development Association.

"So I have had a lot of opportunity to be involved, but this is a different role for me and a different set of responsibilities," he said. "I have a lot of support from a lot of people. It is a community activity and it takes a lot of people.

"The reason we have such as great fair is the people in Wayne County. When you look at the involvement that the school system puts in, and you look at the Extension's (Service) involvement, then just look out there at the food court and all of the community booths we have out there."

There are a couple of changes in store for fairgoers, Pitzer said.

But fairgoers also can rest assured that the crowd favorites are returning, including the Queen of the Fair pageant Friday night at 8 p.m. in the entertainment arena. Also back are the Ugly Truck Contest on Sunday at 2 p.m. in front of the entertainment building and the cheerleading competition on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. in the grandstand area.

The fair features two nights of talent shows in the entertainment arena. The kindergarten to grade 2 talent show is Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 4:30 p.m., followed by the grades 3-5 talent show at 7 p.m.

The grades 6-8 talent show is Thursday, Oct. 3, at 4:30 p.m., followed by the grades 9-12 talent show at 7 p.m.

Bull riding will be held at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the grandstand arena, and will include a new feature, Dances with Bulls.

"Freestyle cowboys have 60 seconds to work with the bull to do some tricks and try to gain points," Pitzer said. "It is similar to the clowns that you see that work with the bull riders. They have started doing it as a contest."

One of the more noticeable changes will be an 80-foot by 80-foot open-sided tent at the southern end of the grandstand area. All of the livestock shows will be held under the tent instead of the grandstand arena, Pitzer said.

However, the main difference people will see this year will be in the exhibit halls.

"We have moved to what we call competitive exhibits," he said. "It really has to do with how we display our exhibits. We have, in the past, had the youths and the adults exhibits in one building. This year we will have the youth exhibits in the livestock arena. What that has allowed us to do is actually have more space for adult and youth exhibits.

"Of course to get that we went to the ladies that work trough the Extension and Community Service and asked them what they would like to do. So we have involved a big group into putting that together. It has more of look like a scene instead if just being displayed on a shelf."

People can look at the home-canned goods siting in the kitchen cabinets then stroll into the living room decorated in all of its holiday splendor, and on the way out stop by the local store to see the many kinds of foods produced locally and statewide, volunteer Sandra Head said.

Also, for the first time, all of the best-in-show winners will be grouped together, she said.

"We wanted to create a creative environment that will enhance our participants' entries," she said. "We want to grab folks' attention when they come in the door"

That same kind of planning will be followed throughout the exhibit hall, she said.

Missing from the list of entertainment this year is the demolition derby.

"We decided not to have the derby," Pitzer said. "What we really wanted to do with the derby is, we have had limited contestants in that. So we wanted to re-evaluate the rules we have for the derby and the whole process to conduct the derby. Hopefully, next year we will have some new rules and maybe change some of the classes. I would like to see a four-cylinder class, maybe even mini-vans. There are a lot options out there."

Major entertainment this year is a new show, Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean.

"It is a family group and they will do a high-wire act," Pitzer said. "It will be in our center stage area right across from the white building. But it is big pirate ship that they set up as backdrop on that."

Then there are the Ta-Da, robots that look like animals and that pedal small children's tractors. The robots are remotely controlled and talk to the children as they ride around.

"Even if you come to the fair and don't ride the rides, we try to provide enough family entertainment for it to be a good form of entertainment," Pitzer said.