Thursday, July 31, 2008
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It's not always 'fair' weather

Coordinators, vendors take bad weather in stride

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[July 31, 2008]  The thunderstorm that hit the area Tuesday didn't prevent the opening of the 72nd annual Logan County Fair. It did prevent many first-day events from going on exactly as planned, or in one case, did put the county's biggest show on temporary hold.

InsuranceThe evening storm lasted less than an hour but packed 60 mph winds that at one time forced a dozen individuals to hold the flaps at the Republican tent to make sure it didn't leave the fairgrounds.

Bad weather and hot weather are all a part of summer county fairs, and everyone involved took the rough beginning in stride. "Storms can always hurt business, but we've got to stay open for the people," says Jimmie Hawkins, manager for the Sivori Catering food stands. Sivori's food stands have been a food fixture of the Logan County Fair for 35 years. "Some close their awnings and windows. We always keep ours open. It's our policy," Hawkins said. "Our reputation is so important to us in this town." Hawkins said that he has seen it all when it comes to storms at the summer fairs. "We've even weathered tornadoes," he said.


Other vendors on the midway expressed their opinion of first-night business from poor to very slow. All, however, are veterans of fairs, and they know this comes along with the territory. "One great weather day can make up for a bad one easily," a helper at one of the lemonade shake-up stands offered.

The visiting patterns of fairgoers are easy for the pros to understand. If one day is so terrible that people decide not to go, then they visit the fair on another night because they do intend to come to the fair.

The fair staff also takes bad weather in stride. "We just move to plan B," says Mike Maske, secretary of the Logan County Fair board. The opening ceremonies and the fair queen pageant were moved to the north Exhibition Building, where there was already a stage set up. Fair volunteers and directors quickly moved over to the building and set up chairs.

"I have to give a lot of the credit to queen pageant director Deanne Mott," said Maske. "She was still so organized." When the girls were first brought to the Exhibition Building, they did not have their evening gowns. Deanne Mott and her crew had to trek back over the muddy track to gather the gowns and the rest of their belongings. "It still went off without hitch," said Maske. "There was only about a 15-minute delay."

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And thanks to the hard work and patience of everyone, a new queen was chosen Tuesday night. Miss Sabra Boyd was crowned the 2008 Logan County Fair queen. Sabra is the daughter of Donnie and Shari Boyd of Lincoln. Megan Farmer of Middletown was named first runner-up, and Amy Ramlow of Lincoln was named Miss Congeniality.

All did not end well for the many who found themselves at the fair in the middle of a squall of rain, wind and lightning. The Leuhrs' Ideal Rides amusement park didn't get to open the first night. Potential storm activity in the area as well as a steady rain prevented the carousels and Ferris wheel from spinning on opening night.

Again Maske stressed the importance of making sure fairgoers are safe. "In the Leuhrs' office is a Doppler radar screen, plus they have a couple televisions turned on to catch the latest local weather reports. Sure, the kids would go on rides no matter what the weather, but we all have to address the safety issue first and always," he explained.

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Wednesday afternoon it was still muddy at the fairgrounds, with rain-soaked grass. The infield didn't allow people or horses to traverse easily without their feet or hoofs becoming caked in mud.

By late afternoon, things began drying out and the number of fairgoers started rapidly increasing. By 6 p.m. the amusement park began to operate and the grandstand for the stock car races started filling with race enthusiasts. Vendors started seeing their first lines as fairgoers waited to buy their favorite fair foods.

By 7 p.m. parking inside the grounds was hard to find. The entire frontage road was lined with parked cars and trucks. It was obvious this was going to be a great night at the fair.

The weather forecast for the rest of the week is more favorable outside of that usual dose of August heat, but you can never be sure in summer. Thus the fair staff remains flexible at all times. The vendors stay prepared and ready for whatever comes. They all know that whether it is tomorrow or the next day or every day, when the fair is in town, we will come.

Tuesday belonged to Mother Nature. Wednesday the fair belonged to us.




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