Shelby County Fair: Best of old, lots of new

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Special nights, music and some new twists highlight 10-day run

By Lisa King

You might think that this year the Shelby County Fair couldn’t possibly be as exciting as last year, when there were lots of special touches to mark the event’s 150th celebration, but you would be wrong, fair officials say.

“We had some new things for the fair last year with our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, and we’ll have some of those again this year,” said Ray Tucker, president of the A&M Association, the entity that puts on the fair.

Some of those include Farm Bureau night (June 17), the Miss Sensational Shelby County Fair pageant (June 13) and Senior Citizen’s Night (June 20).

“We’ll have a program Thursday [June 20] for senior citizens at Floral Hall, because it has air conditioning, and a lot of the nursing homes and churches will be bring people in for a couple of hours, and we are looking forward to providing them with a really nice program,” Tucker said.

A concert series the fair board promoted heavily last year is back again, despite the fact that it wasn’t as big a draw as had been hoped, Tucker said.

“I wasn’t disappointed last year; I was encouraged,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of turnout, but from looking at it from the perspective as president of the fair board, you have to try things new and different, and a concert series is one of those things that I think will build on itself over time. From the community’s standpoint, if we’re going to be asking for a ten-dollar admission, then we have to have more than one event going on.”

Tucker said the concert series, in addition to popular bands such as New Breed (June 21), J.D. Shelburne (June 22) and a karaoke talent contest (June 20), this year will include a gospel concert, with several churches coming together for that.

Jeff Hagerman, secretary for the fair board, said he is excited about some new things this year that weren’t even part of last year’s big celebration.

 “The pet show is a new thing, and we’re trying to finalize a car show for the second Saturday [June 22],” he said. “Drew [carnival] is also bringing in some new rides this year, and we’re even expecting some new food vendors.”

And of course, Tucker said, the old favorites will be back.

“The tractor pulls and the carnival and the horse show will be the main attractions, as usual,” he said. 

The fair will open Thursday morning with a dairy show at 9 a.m. and a pedal tractor pull will take place at 5 p.m.

The carnival rides will open at 6 p.m., just in time to provide a perfect backdrop for the Miss Sensational Shelby County Fair Pageant, in its second year, featuring girls who are recipients of special services in Shelby and surrounding counties.

After the pageant, there will be a reception in the Bradley Barn, and an art showcase at Floral Hall will contain artwork by young artists with special needs.

The pageants continue on Friday, with the Baby Show at 1:30 p.m. and Tiny Tots at 6 p.m. and even a custom contest afterward for the critters, for cows and calves.

The pageants will continue throughout Tuesday, along with livestock shows, tractor pulls, carnival rides, Flora Hall exhibits and drag racing at 7 p.m.

Horses will take over during the second half of the schedule, starting with a Miniature Horse Show June 17, and horse shows June 19-22.

Tucker said that even though he has heard grumblings before about admission being more on some nights than on others, that is necessary to put on a quality fair.

“As a board, we are trying very hard,” he said. “I don’t get a lot of complaints about admission price, but I get a few, but we’ve cut the hours back so much when we’re taking money at the gate.”

Hager agreed.

“The carnival people have held their prices again, [$18 for a bracelet] for the all-rides thing, and a couple of afternoons will be free until five o’clock,” he said. “Some nights will be five dollars [admission], and some will be ten dollars. The tractor truck pull, because of the expense in putting that on, those nights will be a little more expensive.”

Tucker said his goal is for everyone to go to the fair and have a good time.

“We are just asking people to come and support us in this one hundred and fifty first fair, pray for good weather and hope that we have a good turnout,” he said.