County fair set to impress

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Monroe County is once again geared up and ready to host one of the state’s preeminent county fairs, complete with several special events scheduled to continue its year-long bicentennial celebration.

Sunday evening’s Little Miss and Fair Queen pageants will serve as the unofficial kickoff of the 2016 Monroe County Fair. And a week-long appearance by a Budweiser Clydesdale hitch will serve as one of the highlights of the event.

“How often do you get to have the whole hitch of Clydesdales at your event?” asked Monroe County Fair Association Secretary George Obernagel. “There’s a lot of people talking about it and I’m sure they will attract quite a crowd.”

Another new addition to this year’s fair is the designation of Bicentennial Day on the final day of the fair, July 31.

Both county and city officials will participate in this year’s FFA Fun Night events, including a city vs. county tug-of-war battle.

Free carriage rides will be offered from 1 to 3 p.m. that day and there will be an 1800s costume contest at 6 p.m.

Bicentennial Day — and the 2016 Monroe County Fair — will conclude with a special fireworks display in honor of the county’s 200th birthday.

“It’s just one of the greatest family events in the area. There’s something for everyone to enjoy,” Obernagel said.

Throughout the week, annual staples of the fair will take place, including the Thursday night FFA and 4-H livestock auction, which annually raises more than $150,000 for agriculture programs in the county.

The always popular Figure 8 race will take place Wednesday night, free armband and admission on Thursday night, Demolition Derby on Friday night, and the ITPA Truck and Tractor Pull Saturday night.

Bands will play live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

For a printable full schedule of county fair events, visit online at www.republictimes.net/monroe-county-fair-schedule-of-events.

As counties across Illinois have had to eliminate their annual fairs, Monroe County’s continues to thrive, in part thanks to the local organizations that work throughout the year — and tirelessly during fair week — to ensure the success of the local event, which annually brings in nearly $500,000 in total receipts that fund the fair and contribute to the operations of various county organizations.

“We appreciate all of the volunteer support and are especially thankful for all of the sponsors for their help each and every year,” Obernagel said.

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