‘Old fashioned’ Callaway fair lowers gate prices

After years of new events, flashy musical guests and dwindling attendance, the 2013 Kingdom of Callaway County Fair hopes to make a return to old form and simpler times.

The 2013 fair, slated to begin Monday and conclude Aug. 3, will feature local country music, barn dances, vintage tractor derbies and more old-fashioned fun— all for a reduced gate price of $5 a day.

Fair Board member Bill Gentzsch said the solution to putting on the best fair possible here in Callaway would be a return to the style of fair he was used to seeing as a youth.

“That’s what we’re trying to do this time, a good ol’ country fair with old-fashioned events. I think people enjoy that a little better,” he said. “The music and big stuff, it serves a crowd and I understand that, but I don’t think we have that kind of crowd in Callaway County. They’d rather see an old-time fair and they told us so.”

The fair will kick off Monday with a free horse show at 6 p.m. Over the course of the following week, several old-fashioned staples will return for the first time in years. Musical performances will be provided by a number of local or regional gospel and country music bands. Tuesday features the antique tractor pull and other events on The Callaway Bank Night, and the open-class Outlaw Derby kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday.

Saturday boasts free entry for kids and several youth-centric events, including three-legged races, turtle and frog races, a baby-crawling contest and a Touch-A-Truck event with local law enforcement and fire protection agencies. The evening also features an old-fashioned barn dance immediately following the old-time fiddlers contest, and a new rodeo put on by thelocal Midwest Cowboys Rodeo Company.

“We had a rodeo for a few years, and they weren’t from around here and were a little more expensive,” said fair board treasurer Theresa Spencer. “This one has a lot of people — there’s some in Fulton and New Bloomfield. They figured that would be better and that’s what we’re trying to go for, more local stuff.”

Gentzsch said the wide variety of events, as well as more community involvement — this year’s tractor and car show will have several categories on which people can vote, for example — are what will make this year’s fair special.

Though the inaugural Callaway County Youth Expo was the venue of choice for many of the 4-H events that were traditionally hosted by the county fair — despite a misprint in the pocket brochures, 4-H and the Optimists will not be serving food at the fair — some standout events of recent fairs will return as well. The Mule Kickers are scheduled to perform at 6:30 p.m. on July 31, while the baby contest will take place at 6 p.m. on Aug. 1. Little Mister and Little Miss Callaway will be held on Aug. 2.

Gentzsch hopes the lower gate price coupled with the old-fashioned theme will be the cure to the fair’s ailing attendance in recent years. He said he knows times are tough, and wants the fair to be affordable as well as have a classic appeal.

“I think we’re going to have to come back to what people believe in,” he said. “I think people are just wanting to get back to a simpler way of life, and that’s the kind of fair we have to put on.”


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