PHOTO GALLERY and ARTICLE: Fair attendance down from previous years

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

NEWTON—Numbers were understandably down during this year’s Harvey County Fair, this past weekend.

That’s according to Gary Lanier, president of the fair board.

Many of the events were cancelled and even the 4-H judging was online. Although many attended the rodeo shows Friday and Saturday nights, at least on Friday night, spectators spaced themselves on the stands, although most didn’t wear masks, at least that night.

The livestock shows were closed to the public and were put on by the Youth Livestock Show of Harvey County in the livestock building on the fairgrounds, Lanier said.

“All Harvey County youth ages 7 to 19 that are eligible to participate in the fair livestock show will be eligible,” according to the group’s Facebook page. “Entries will be by tags normally used to enter the fair.”

Some of the cancelled events included the parade, Market in the Park, ATV Rodeo, kids’ tractor pull, Ag Fest and open-class entries.

Since many things were cancelled, that affected the attendance at other events.

“The numbers feed into the carnival and food vendors,” Lanier said. “The food trucks and vendors seemed to be happy with the night attendance. Typically, they would be up more.”

The Friday night carnival didn’t have a lot of people there.

The demolition derby, which usually has an attendance of 2,500 to 2,700 people for a normal year, was down to about 1,900 this year, Lanier said, adding when he looked at the seats, they looked filled, but they weren’t jam-packed as people sat away from each other. Even though attendance was down, the number of vehicles in the derby was up from the usual 30 to around 39 or 40.

“Quite a few masks,” he said about the derby, adding the masks usually came off when people sat down.

The fair had wash stations and hand sanitizer, which was out and used, Lanier said. He also said when people walked around at the derby, they social distanced.

“I think America has taken the hint,” he said about taking health precautions during the pandemic.

He said that even though the events were fewer, it took a lot more effort to put the fair on this year because of the pandemic. They had a lot more meetings, like with emergency management.

Lanier said sponsorship was down and they put together a fund for 4-H youth with market animals, since there was no premium auction, this year. There will be 100 percent payout evenly per 4-Her with a market animal.

“After some coordination with other groups, we have a way to help the youth in Harvey County that had market livestock projects,” according to the Harvey County Fair. “A 4-H/FFA Livestock Program Fund has been set up with the help of the Central Kansas Community Foundation and the Harvey County Farm Bureau Association, businesses and individuals will have the opportunity to contribute to a fund to help the youth that participated in the market livestock project this year. The 4-H/FFA Livestock Program Fund is a component fund of Central Kansas Community Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) not for profit charity. Tax ID: 48-1221368.”
To participate, send a check with memo Livestock Fund to: CKCF, 301 N. Main, Suite 200, Newton, KS 67114.”
Folks have until Aug. 7 to make donations and the funds will be distributed by the Harvey County Farm Bureau Association to each 4-H/FFA youth, who tagged a market animal for this year’s fair. Donations are tax deductible.

One event that did happen was mud volleyball, which started at 3 p.m., Saturday.

“Everybody had a really good time,” Lanier said, adding they’ll try to have other simple activities like that at the fair, next year, like a corn-hole tournament.

This year, the fair just tried to break even financially and be a place where people could forget their troubles and have fun, Lanier said.

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