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Monday, July 25, 2016

Weather, pavilion add to fair success

Monday, July 30, 2012

All eyes are on trapeze artist Nick Candlish, performing high-flying stunts as part of the Kent Family Magic Circus, which entertained crowds at the five-day Plymouth County Fair. More than 91,000 people attended the fair in Le Mars.
Plymouth County Fair Board Chairman Tony Schroeder thinks the break from weeks of sweltering heat brought people to the 2012 five-day fair.

The nicer weather was the highlight of the fair, according to Schroeder.

"It was hot before the fair and by Wednesday evening a front came through and cooled the weather down," he said.

Schroeder said the fair offered a good value to people looking to get out.

"People have been cooped up; where can they go and have a good time and not spend a lot of money? I think the key here was the weather for the fair," he said.

Fair numbers

The estimated attendance for the fair confirms the first-year fair board chairman's views.

There were 91,900 fairgoers at the five-day fair July 25-29, said fair board ticket chairman Rich Benson.

The 2012 total is up 1,950 from one year ago.

The fairgrounds had the biggest crowd on Saturday with 23,250 people, according to Benson's daily tally.

The second highest total for 2012 was Friday with 19,750 people.

Thursday's total of 17,000 was the third largest fair crowd this year.

The final day of the fair brought 16,500 to the fairgrounds compared to opening day attendance of 15,400.

Commercial exhibitors

Attendance wasn't the only thing up at the Plymouth County Fair this year, the number of commercial indoor and outdoor vendors and exhibitors was also up.

Matt Reuter, fair board indoor commercial exhibit chairman, said 98 exhibitors filled 129 indoor booths at the fair, an increase of about 18 from 2011.

"Last year we had the Hall of '76 only half full," Reuter said. "This year it's full from door to door."

Of those 98 indoor exhibitors, he estimated 30 percent were new to the Plymouth County Fair, something he attributes to the Internet.

"I put a post on Facebook about the fair," Reuter said Thursday. "The first day I had like 15 inquiries."

Eight or nine exhibitors at the fair came from that online post, he said.

Loren Schnepf, fair board outdoor commercial exhibit chairman, offered similar thoughts.

He said there were about 60 outdoor exhibitors at the fair, approximately four or five more than last year.

"We've been steadily increasing over the last 10 years," Schnepf said. "There's a lot of new ones here this year."

New Livestock Pavilion

People from all over the state went through the new Livestock Pavilion which replaced wooden barns built in the 1940s, said Schroeder.

"You go in the new building at night when the grounds are closing up and there are still a lot of people standing in the new barn looking it over yet," he said.

He said he'd been told by one person at the fair that nothing was missing.

"I told him we spent a couple of years putting everything together and thinking about how this would work," he said.

The building was popular with the exhibitors for features such as the coolness and air flow, he said.

"I just can't say anything bad about it," Schroeder said.

County Youth Coordinator Ann Schoenrock said there was a lot of excitement inside the new livestock building.

"I saw it in the quality of the animals and just how many exhibitors just hung out and stayed in the cattle barns and helped each other out," she said. "The building was constantly busy."

Fans could be heard through the 100-by-150-foot building and throughout the grounds as 4-H and FFA members worked to keep their livestock entries cool.

Managing animals, heat

Fair Livestock Superintendent Carol Schneider said cooler temperatures on two of the five fair days were welcomed.

"We're very grateful that we had a break in temperatures on Friday and Saturday for our large meat animal shows because it really kept those animals and the exhibitors more comfortable," Schneider sad.

Temperatures heated up again Sunday for the 4-H and FFA pet show.

"We have a slimmer turnout than last year -- I think that's related to the heat," Schneider said.

During the fair, she said Fair Veterinarian Dr. John Conley helped exhibitors work with a couple of sick animals.

The exhibitors

Schneider said the highlight of the fair was finding out what the 4-H and FFA exhibitors learned.

"That's why we're here -- for education -- and so we're always excited to hear what they've learned," she said.

Schoenrock echoed those thoughts, noting questions from exhibitors are answered and advice is given out in the months leading up to the fair.

As Schoenrock walks through the fairgrounds buildings, the young people often come up to the youth coordinator.

"They show me what ribbon they have, and they're so proud of whatever they received because it meant the world to them that they proved to themselves basically that they could follow through from start to finish on a project," Schoenrock explained.

Many 4-H'ers' lessons were rewarded -- approximately 6,000 ribbons were ordered for this year's fair.

Fundraising activities such as the annual fair auction help pay for expenses such as those.


At Sunday's fair auction, wood carvings by A.J. Lutter, collectible belt buckles, toy trucks and milk cans, two benches constructed from boards from the old beef barns and a quilt brought a total of $19,625 from bidders.

The quilt, constructed by Geri Dreckman and machine quilted by Mary Roder, brought $4,000.

Two wood carvings brought $1,050 each, with a total of $12,300 from the 15 pieces Lutter carved from walnut and cedar.

Proceeds from the auction will help the fair board make next year's Plymouth County Fair something to remember.


Visitors to the fair appreciated the various activities -- everything from antique tractors to carnival games.

Stepping away from his commercial booth in Becker Hall for a sweet treat, Gene Haverdink, 76, of Orange City, said he likes looking at the farm equipment.

"I'm a machinery nut," he said.

He also enjoys the antique tractors.

"I've restored a couple of those," Haverdink said.

Sitting on a picnic table in the shade, fairgoers Emily Carlson, 10, and Trevor Szczech, 10, said they liked the midway as they pointed toy guns at one another.

Their weapons' ammunition -- potatoes.

"You can also use an apple or a pear," Szczech said. "It doesn't have to be a potato."

Carlson, who wore a purple blow-up crown, said the carnival games are also fun.

"I like winning cool things and wearing them," she said.

While checking out exhibits in the 4-H Building Thursday, Jennifer Seible, 17, Chris Reising, 17, and Alicia Remmick, 19, had their own ideas as to what makes the fair "The Best 5 Days of Summer."

"The rides. The octopus. That's my favorite one," Seible said. "It takes you really high and spins you around."

Although neither Seible or Remmick are 4-H'ers, they are in agreement with Reising, who exhibits in photography and food and nutrition, Plymouth County's fair is fun.

"It's a time to hang out with all your friends," Reising said.

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