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A successful Pierce County Fair

By Staff | Jul 9, 2010

The 2010 Pierce County Fair is in the books and judging by the positive feedback from fairgoers impressed with the quality and quantity of entertainment, the three-day event passed with flying colors.

“We were very pleased with how things turned out this year,’ said Sharon Pfeifer, fair board treasurer. “We definitely have things to improve, but all in all, it was a success.”

Although official attendance figures won’t be known until later this week once the board reviews gate admission records, numbers over the July 2-4 event are expected to easily surpass the 1,700 who attended a year ago.

“Having one more day certainly helped, but we just noticed a lot more people walking around the fairgrounds, taking in events,’ said Don Jelsing, fair board president. “Again, that goes back to the variety of entertainment.”

One of the points of emphasis this year for the fair board was better attendance for the evening concerts and judging by the crowd of over 500 who attended the Gwen Sebastian performance in the grandstand on July 2, mission accomplished.

“She really lived up to all the hype,’ Jelsing said. “She was a wonderful entertainer and provided a high-energy show. She was a ball of fire.”

Sebastian, a rising country music performer, played for nearly three hours and during her brief breaks could be seen in the crowd, visiting with the audience, posing for pictures and signing autographs.

The following night Samantha Madison, also of Nashville, performed and received positive reviews as well. “Attendance wasn’t as good, but her show was just as entertaining,’ Jelsing said. “She played a mix of country and rock and that really got the crowd excited.”

Her concert was moved indoors because of a threat of rain, but that didn’t cause too much of an inconvenience, Jelsing added.

There were many other highlights throughout the three days. Once again the local Hidden Talent Show and side-by-side Mud Runs drew nice crowds in the grandstand.

Since the fair started back up again in 2008, the board’s intent was to offer a number of free stage shows and concerts to encourage participation and that is beginning to come to fruition.

“We had quite the participation for the buffalo wild wings eating contest,’ Pfeifer said. “And there were other contests which people took part in, like the watermelon eating contest.”

The Freddie Prez music lip sync contests and games featured plenty of participation as well as the kids’ nickel scramble, Pfeifer noted.

There were other added attractions which people enjoyed, including a car show organized by Dave Brandt that included about 30 cars. Northern Outlaw Wrestling drew about 150 to the grandstand and the Northern Straight Drum Group from Belcourt also entertained crowds with a free stage music and dance exhibition.

A 5K run-walk sponsored and hosted by the Heart of America Medical Center Outpatient Wellness Center and Physical Therapy Department also drew about 60 participants.

This year also included more kids’ inflatable games and that helped to boost numbers. A new feature was a dunking booth, which was a favorite among kids. “We had scheduled a number of business leaders, teachers and coaches to help sit in the tank, but we quickly found that the kids wanted to be in there,’ Pfeifer said. “Maybe it was the hot weather and they found it a way to cool off, but they had a lot of fun with that.”

Other improvements over last year were more food vendors, which fairgoers appreciate, and the new exhibit hall offered a chance for 4-H static exhibits to be displayed. There was also room for other organizations to house displays.

While the added entertainment was much appreciated, it did challenge the fair board to find more volunteers.

Pfeifer said the board is thankful to those who did come forward and give part of their holiday weekend to run the admission gate, take tickets for the grandstand shows, supervise events or contests and watch over the kids’ games.

“Many even covered extra shifts and were happy to help out,’ she said.

Jelsing said there were some behind-the-scenes glitches, but for the most part the events ran smoothly.

“There are a couple of things we need to change,’ he said.

One is providing a map of the fairgrounds inside the fair booklets identifying where the booths, stage and entertainment will be located. “There was a bit of confusion about where some events were going to be held,’ he said. “Next year, we hope to make it much easier for people to locate the attractions and events on the fairgrounds.”

Another change is repairing or replacing the public address system in the grandstand. Of course, that could be quite an expense and the fair board will have to look at its options.

Overall, weather conditions were pretty good for the event, despite some hot and humid weather for two of the days. Fairgoers were able to find some shade in the exhibit hall or the picnic shelter. A brief rain shower passed through late afternoon on July 3, but that was the only major issue with weather.

“You just cross your fingers and hope you’re going to get decent weather,’ Jelsing said.

The Pierce County Fair Board will take a breather before setting its sights to next year.

And next year will be both exciting and challenging.

The 125th Pierce County-Rugby centennial celebration and all-school reunion promises to bring thousands of visitors to the community, July 1-4, and many will make their way to the Pierce County Fair.

Fair organizers know they have their work cut out to provide additional entertainment for an expected large crowd.

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