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Fairs’ attendance up with cool temps

By Staff | Jul 24, 2009

Abby Peters, of Madrid, trims Snickers as Bonnie Whalen, of Pilot Mound, keeps the rabbit held still. Snickers is Whalen’s daughter Emma’s 4-H rabbit.

BOONE – “It’s a Grand New Fair, More to See … More to Do,” was the theme for last week’s 2009 Boone County Fair.

Jennifer Dodd, Boone County Fairgrounds manager, said there were many improvements made to the fairgrounds this year, as well as several additions and changes made to the fair schedule.

With new events and cool weather, Dodd said, the fair experienced a 10 percent increase in attendance.

The new Leonard Good stage was the place to be for musical entertainment, which included a “Tribute to Johnny Cash,” by Bill Dewey and “Burnin’ Sensations.” Although Mother Nature presented the fair with some cooler temperatures, Dodd said a roof was attached to the south side of the Community Building to allow for a place for fairgoers to get out of the sun and enjoy the many culinary options available from food vendors.

The Community Building, which is also available for rent for weddings and other large parties, received some new carpeting on the walls to help with acoustics; a fresh coat of paint and new curtains for the stage and the concrete was also sealed in the that building.

Courtney Tingwald, of Woodward, has come back to the Boone County Fair after finishing her freshman year at ISU, but not as a 4-H'er but as the summer program assistant for the county Extension office.

Other improvements made to buildings throughout the fairgrounds included new lights in the horse barn. The commercial exhibits building was renovated to make it lighter and brighter. The swine building was provided with a new furnace.

“I think we’ve done something to every building here besides two,” said Dodd.

The Boone County Fair booked a new carnival, which Dodd said was a “big thing” for the fair and for the first time in a few years, the commercial exhibits building was filled with businesses both inside and out. And more food vendors came to the fair this year, as well.

Also new to the fair is the “Helping Hands Farm,” where children could play in corn boxes, milk a pretend cow, play with pedal tractors and see newborn baby pigs in the mobile swine lab.

Since the swine show was held early in fair week and in order to make use of the building for the remaining three days of the fair, a comic book and collections expo was scheduled.

Many improvements and additions were made at the Boone County Fair this year and one of the more popular is the Helping Hands Farm where young children could release some energy and gain some agricultural knowledge.

“We wanted to utilize the space so it wasn’t just sitting empty,” Dodd said.

With other popular events such as the annual combine demolition derby, a draft horse pull and a stock truck pull, in addition to 4-H and FFA shows, the Boone County Fair is thriving and this is due in part to some smart marketing.

“I credit the success of the fair to our promotion efforts,” Dodd said. “We’re using the same amount of advertising money, but in different ways.”

Courtney Tingwald, the summer program assistant at the Boone County ISU Extension office, was on hand each day of the fair manning the fair office and said that overall livestock numbers were down slightly, but on the bright side some exhibit areas were seeing an increase.

According to Tingwald, who just completed her freshman year at Iowa State University, the market beef class saw an increase in entries, but swine entry numbers were extremely down.

Last year 170 hogs were brought to the fair and this year there was just 96.

Much like market beef, the rabbits and poultry saw seeing increases, and, like agriculture in general, Tingwald said, depending on the market, you will see a shift in the numbers of what kind of livestock gets shown at the fair.

Tingwald isn’t new to the Boone County Fair having gone through her 4-H experience here, but this year rather than bringing various static exhibits or showing her pen of three cattle, she was involved with the fair on the other side.

“I make sure the ribbons and awards are ready for the shows and after the shows I do data entry of the results,” said Tingwald.

Those jobs are just a few of her responsibilities as Tingwald was also the “go to” gal for information regarding the fair.

Tingwald is an agricultural education major with a minor in animal science.

“So this job fits nicely,” she said. “It’s been really nice to come back and good to be learning the other part of the fair. It’ll be nice to have that background.”

One first time 4-H’er, Kacie Hoskins, 11, from Ogden, and a member of the Westside Hustlers 4-H Club, was busy at the fair preparing to show her breeding heifer “Sarah.”

So far, Hoskins said, she has been enjoying her first year in 4-H and especially the fair.

“It’s been fun, we get to do a lot of stuff and at the fair I hang out with my friends and I’ve been doing lots of stuff with my calf,” said Hoskins.

Hoskins said learning how to care for her calf and showing people she can do it is the best part about bringing her to the fair.

“I wanted to show her,” said Hoskins. “After hearing people talk about how fun it is I wanted to. People said I couldn’t do it, so I wanna show them I can.”

Hoskins earned a blue ribbon showing Sarah in the crossbred beef breeding heifer class and a blue in junior showmanship.

Abby Peters, 16, from Madrid, and a member of the Madrid Merry Makers, has been in 4-H for a few years now and is experiencing her second year at the Boone County Fair showing her rabbits.

Peters said she brought 30 rabbits to the fair this year with breeds consisting of Mini Rex, New Zealand White, Californian and Flemish Giants.

Peters is on the 4-H junior rabbit committee and volunteers her time during the fair to help out her fellow 4-H’ers with their rabbits, as well as younger kids that may want to hold her bunnies, or assisting adults wanting more information about rabbits.

“I teach showmanship,” Peters said, “and help with grooming and clipping nails.”

In addition to the Boone County Fair, Peters said she will also show at the Iowa State Fair and the Clarke County Classic, which is a large rabbit show.

“Showing rabbits is a lot of fun, it’s a big fun thing and an extracurricular activity for me and I get to show off the best of our breeding stock,” she said.

Peters said her family raises close to 350 rabbits in their breeding stock and she spends time figuring out just which ones will make it to the fair and shows.

“I trust my rabbits will respect people,” said Peters. “But I work and play with them to where they are tame and then I will work extra hard with a few for showmanship.

“I show for the fun of it, I’m not that competitive.”

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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