This year’s county fair among best ever

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Pictured, the Bud Light Brigade leads the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch in a parade around the fairgrounds Thursday night, beginning with a rousing rendition of “Here Comes the King.” (Kermit Constantine photo)
Pictured, the Bud Light Brigade leads the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch in a parade around the fairgrounds Thursday night, beginning with a rousing rendition of “Here Comes the King.”  For more photos from this year’s fair, click here. (Kermit Constantine photo)

This year’s Monroe County Fair saw record-setting attendance, bolstered by near perfect summer weather, the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales and the ongoing celebration of Monroe County’s Bicentennial.

“The weather was fantastic all week,” Monroe County Fair Association Secretary George Obernagel said. “The Clydesdales sure brought a lot of people out to the fairgrounds.”

With temperatures in the mid-80s for much of the week and little rain, the crowds kept coming back. Obernagel added that he saw many cars at the fairgrounds with Missouri plates.

One of the big draws of this year’s fair was the six-day stay of a full Budweiser Clydesdale hitch complete with Clyde the Dalmatian. Visitors could watch as the eight horses exercised every morning in the horse arena, were groomed and cared for throughout the day, snoozed in their quarters, performed in the main arena, and hooked up to the beer wagon for laps around the fairgrounds every evening from 5 to 7 p.m.

Always regarded as the grand spectacle of the fair, this year’s auto demolition derby set an attendance record with $44,000 collected at the gates Friday night. This tops the previous record of $40,000 earned.

This year’s 4-H and FFA livestock auction on Thursday netted about $147,000, which is comparable to recent years, even though there were fewer animals for sale than in past years, Obernagel pointed out.

The food stands reported positive sales as well.

“Thanks for all the help each and every one of you are,” Monroe County Fair Association President Don Schrader said. “The board of directors, the superintendents, the people that put (in) endless hours out here make (the fair) what it is.”

Schrader also made a point of thanking the police, fire and EMS personnel who helped at the fair throughout the week.

Despite a couple of minor scuffles and a few citations for underage drinking, no major incidents were reported. A man suffered a head injury that required EMS transport during a fight last Monday night, and on Saturday night a Missouri man working with one of the truck-pulling teams suffered a heart attack. He was taken to an area hospital, where he is reported to have survived.

The fair wrapped up Sunday with a day of activities that honored the county’s rich ag history to help commemorate the Bicentennial.

The Budweiser Clydesdale hitch made its final laps of the week with Donald “Doc” McCrosky perched on the iconic beer wagon. McCrosky is a retired Monroe County veterinarian and owns heavy horses, including Clydesdales, at his Waterloo farm.

The 2016 Monroe County Farm Family was the Ray and Julie Henerfauth family. Along with children Lydia, Lyllian, Logan and Leigha, the Henerfauths earned the trophy Sunday evening for receiving the largest number of points on entries and placings at this year’s fair.

The FFA Fun Night, which pits students from the FFA programs at Columbia, Gibault, Red Bud, Valmeyer and Waterloo high schools against each other in a series of challenges like hay bale stacking, corn shucking, egg tossing and tug-of-war, also included teams of county officials and city employees as part of “Bicentennial Day” at the fair.

The Columbia FFA finished with top honors for the third year in a row. Valmeyer took home second place and Waterloo was third.

The day — and a Monroe County Fair for the record books — concluded with a fireworks display.

“It was definitely one of the best fairs we’ve ever had,” Obernagel said.

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