Fishing for Fair fun

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By Abby Walker

Exuberant colors, sticky powder sugar covered fingers, little boys and girls in fancy pageant outfits and smiles that stretch from one end of the county to the other – this is what the Shelby County Fair is made of.


While the Shelby County fair just celebrated its 156 years in existence, this was my first year attending. As a summer intern from the suburbs of Chicago, I had never attended a county fair — ever. I have been in Kentucky for three years attending the University of Kentucky for print journalism, but a county fair was still a whole new experience.

Luckily, my coworkers gave me tips on what to photograph, who to talk to and which events to attend. I covered an array of pageants from the Baby Show all the way up to Miss Teen Shelby County and I covered other festivities ranging from carnival rides to the radio control truck and tractor pull. I even tried my first funnel cake!

After all was said and done, I left the fair with a few takeaways:

Shelby County Fair is a great place for people of all ages to come together to enjoy themselves.

Nothing will make you sweat like a Kentucky horse barn in the heat of the summer.

No one has truly lived until they try a funnel cake.

Though the week was hot and humid, each of the events I attended were fun and well-executed. Looking around, all I saw all week was smiles from every fair-goer. Shelby County Fair is truly a must-go-to family event.

Unfortunately, the hot weather kept some Shelby County residents away. Shelby County A & M Vice President Carol Vance said that official fair attendance numbers are not in yet, but they think attendance is similar to last year, with a possible exception to the end of the week.

“We didn’t have beautiful weather at the end of the week — the sun was shining but it was so hot, so I think that affected our numbers,” she said, adding that most people turned out in the evenings when the weather got cooler.

But many of the events still had big turnouts, including the Baby Show, Tiny Tots Pageant, the Demo Derby and the truck and tractor trailer pulls. And of course, the fair could not be this successful without help from the sponsors each year.

“We had wonderful community support. We had several sponsors that were above and beyond awesome that helped us get some things done in crunch time. Shelbyville Chrysler is one of those sponsors, Eric Thompson Excavating, of course REP Rents,” Vance said.

For anyone who did not make it out to the fair this year, make sure to make it a priority next year. There are so many events for all ages to enjoy.

And even if you go to the fair alone like I did, you can still have fun. 

Shelby County residents have made me feel as if I have always been a true member of this community ever since the first time I stepped foot in the county a few weeks ago. 

There’s just something about this community that makes you feel like you belong, even if your hometown is hundreds of miles away like mine. I think that is what makes Shelby County such a special place.

And do not forget — even if you missed the fair last week, the Fair Horse Show will run every night until it comes to an end on Saturday evening.