Monroe County Fair a thrill once again

Families flocked to the Monroe County Fairgrounds on Thursday for Carnival Armband Night as youngsters enjoyed riding a variety of thrilling carnival rides. There was free admission at the gate and the cost of an armband for the rides was just $20. Look for more photos from the fair in this week’s paper and online at More photos will also appear in next week’s paper. (Corey Saathoff photo)

Another Monroe County Fair is in the books, with fair officials giving a positive early assessment on the annual summertime event.

“The weather got a little warm at times, but the people came out,” Monroe County Fair Association Secretary George Obernagel said.

Attendance was comparable to recent years, Obernagel said. The July 20 cancellation of tractor pull events due to poor track conditions resulted in one extra night of free admission at this year’s fair. And although gate receipts appear to be slightly lower than in recent years, food and beer sales were very strong.

The fair’s usual main attractions — Figure 8 race, auto demolition derby and tractor pulls — drew large crowds and went off without any problems. Fair officials brought in a new promoter, Grandstand Attractions, to handle the Figure 8 and demo derby, and they introduced a “power wheels demo derby” for youngsters prior to both main events.

“There weren’t really any fights or major problems like that,” Obernagel said.

Waterloo Police Chief Jim Trantham reported to the Waterloo City Council on Monday night there were no arrests made at the fair.

Jessica Neary leads one of her cattle entries into the livestock area during Thursday’s auction. (Kermit Constantine photo)

“We had good livestock shows this year,” Obernagel said, adding that poultry, rabbit and sheep entries were up while beef and dairy cattle entries were down.

Vegetable and culinary entries were down this year due to crazy weather experienced in the region this spring and summer.

The free, family night at the fair was a whopping success, Obernagel said, as families brought their children to play on rides during Carnival Armband Night.

“It was one of largest crowds we’ve ever had for a Thursday night,” he said.

Harrisonville Telephone Company celebrated 15 years of sponsoring its Customer Appreciation Night at the fair on Thursday, with free musical entertainment provided by Bill Forness and One More Round performing a tribute to Johnny Cash.

The annual livestock auction brought in an estimated $137,000, which is down slightly from last year.

To close out this year’s fair, the Columbia, Waterloo, Valmeyer, Gibault and Red Bud FFA chapters participated in an FFA Fun Night event Sunday evening in the main arena. Columbia repeated as champions, with Waterloo placing second.

Jim and Jeane of the WIL 92.3 FM Morning Crew were on hand to emcee and join along in the fun Sunday night finale.

Obernagel thanked all of the volunteers who worked the food stands and other booths, as well as sponsors, police, fire and emergency personnel, anyone else who helped with this year’s successful county fair.

“We continue to be one of the strongest fairs in Southern Illinois, and it’s because of all those who help out behind the scenes,” he said.

Even with state funding for county fairs dwindling with each passing year and uncertainty going forward, Obernagel expressed confidence that the Monroe County Fair will survive.

“I think we’ll continue to be a strong fair into the future,” Obernagel said.

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