Shelby County Fair ready for Thursday opening

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Cleanliness and safety priorities were on Tuesday's agenda

By Cameron Koch

The 151st Shelby County Fair is rearing up and almost ready to go, and some final preparations to rides and vendors were being made Tuesday morning.


The Shelby County Extension Office spent more than two hours setting up the area inside the livestock facility, where many of the animal shows, including the first official event of the fair, the District Dairy Show, will be held.

What they are most excited about? A solution to the “poop problem.”

County Extension Agent Corinne Belton said manure from animals in years past had to be taken out behind the building and placed in trash bins, often with other trash, quickly filling up trashcans and creating overflow problems. Now there will be designated manure Dumpsters within the building, resulting in faster cleanup and less mess.

“We are very excited to have manure receptacles,” Belton said with a laugh.

Most of the fair’s attractions were assembled and ready to go, though a few continued to be assembled Tuesday morning. James Graybeal, show manager of Drew Expeditions, said almost everything will be done by today, and that the remainder of the time before Thursday’s kickoff will be used to clean and perform extra maintenance on all fair equipment before Kentucky fair inspectors arrive.

“We take a lot of care in...I guess we could call it our product,” Graybeal said.

Cleanliness and safety were two priorities repeatedly stressed by fair workers as they scrubbed down funnel-cake stands or checked machinery. Graybeal said workers never could be too careful when it comes to safety in particular.

“Safety is the biggest concern we have,” Graybeal said, a fact made evident by the few male workers who weren’t shirtless and in fact were wearing shirts with the words “Safety First” printed on the back.

Fair workers such as Tammy Hurt from Louisville said her job of making a great fair experience isn’t easy, but she said she can’t help but love it. She loves one aspect of fair work in particular.

“I love making funnel cakes,” Hurt said, even if she rarely feels like eating one as a consequence of making countless numbers of them for days at a time.

One new ride of 15 total will be making its first appearance at the Shelby County Fair when the festivities begin –  the Flying Circus, crafted in Germany.

“It’s a beautiful and classy ride,” Graybeal said. He is also fond of this year’s merry-go-round, equipped with a real pipe-organ from the 1800s, he said.

Weather is looking to be on the fair’s side, although opening day could be a bit raining. A much-needed temperature drop from today’s record-approaching forecast of 95 will come as a result.

“We are looking forward to it,” Graybeal said. “It’s looking to be some great fair weather.”

More than a century and a half of Shelby County Fair tradition impressed Graybeal. He said his crew had just come from a fair in a neighboring state that had just celebrated their 100th anniversary.

“Fairs have been around a long time,” Graybeal said. “I don’t care what the U.S. government does, but county fairs will always be here. They will always be here.”