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New kinds of fun greet 2021 Pierce County fairgoers

By Sue Sitter - | Jul 3, 2021

Fairgoers chat near the entrance to the Pierce County Fairgrounds June 26.

The whoosh of fans pumping air into giant inflatables replaced the whir of carnival rides at the 2021 Pierce County Fair June 24-27, but visitors didn’t seem to mind.

Dallas Hager, who attended the fair with his children, said there had been plenty to do between the bounce houses, inflatable slides and their 4-H exhibits.

Near the fairgrounds’ entrance, youngsters competed in a pedal tractor pull contest, using their feet to power toy John Deere tractors with weights in tow. Some weighed as much as 300 pounds.

“Push! Use your legs!” the contestants’ family and friends urged.

Volunteer Khloe Sobolik said the pedal tractor pull event has always been a popular fair attraction. “It’s sponsored by Gooseneck (Implement),” Sobolik said. “The older kids pulled as much as 200 pounds or more. The smaller kids didn’t have as much weight to pull, but even some of the five and six year olds were pulling a lot of weight.”

“We liked the tractor pull,” said contestant Regan Hager.

Hager had attended the fair daily since it began, participating in 4-H Achievement Days.

“Showing pigs and chickens was fun,” Reagan said. “My older sister won the Grand Champion title for showmanship and I won just for my pig.”

Reagan’s older sister, Rylah, had taken home a purple Grand Champion ribbon for showing her pig, Skipper.

“Grand Showmanship is showing your pig. I won just for my pig,” Reagan explained.

Reagan’s little sister, Reese, said she and her brother, Rocky, thought the fair was “fun.”

“But we want to still have rides next year,” she added.

Reese’s brother, Rocky, said, “I like the bouncy houses and the one you can slide on. I like the dunk booth, too.”

A red dunking booth stood near the fair’s entrance. Fairgoers paid for a chance to throw balls at a lever that dropped members of the Rugby High girls’ basketball team into a tank of water.

After the global COVID pandemic canceled the 2020 fair, carnival companies scrambled to hire staff and put rides back into service for summer fair season throughout the Midwest.

Pierce County Fair Board Member Don Jelsing said the fair made up for the smaller number of mechanical rides with an increased number of attractions such as a petting zoo, caricature drawings and free stage shows by magician Mike VanDeCarr.

“I’ve done work for Hank Williams Jr., President George W. Bush, Carol Burnett,” VanDeCarr said.

Impressionist Mike Walker also performed on the free stage.

Activities such as the pedal tractor pull, Cow Pie and Chicken Bingo and the Nickel Scramble, where children dove into a haystack to find as many nickels as they could also added to the fun.

Along with the challenge of bringing back the fair after a one-year absence, organizers also faced rain showers Friday and Saturday.

Concerts by Snake Oil and Diamonds and Whiskey moved indoors and went on as scheduled. Free stage shows continued under a canopy.

Food trucks selling everything from cotton candy to barbecued ribs saw a steady stream of customers despite the weather.

Spectators gathered along an off-road racecourse for the fair’s mud run, made muddier by the rain.

A Guardian Flight helicopter on display for fairgoers flew away from the fairgrounds early to stay ahead of the weather system bringing the rain.

Some visitors to the fair didn’t mind the weather. Spectators stayed by the mud run track to cheer on their favorite off-road pickup truck.

Others shrugged it off and said rainy weather always seemed to come at fair time.

All visitors to the 2021 Pierce County Fair seemed to have a good time.

“We’re going to do this again next year,” Dallas Hager said. “And we hope the rides come back.”

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