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Mokane Fair still big draw despite high temps

The South Callaway High School band marches in the parade at the Mokane Fair Saturday.

The South Callaway High School band marches in the parade at the Mokane Fair Saturday. Photo by Katherine Cummins.

The sun was blazing and the heat index soared over 100, but that didn’t stop area residents from heading out to the 64th annual Mokane Fair sponsored by the Mokane Lions Club this weekend.

Event organizer Terry Howard said Saturday afternoon that even with the heat and the last-minute cancellation of the carnival due to illness, “we’ve had a pretty good turnout.”

“We didn’t have quite the crowd for the parade like usual, but it’s going pretty good — people are still coming out to support us,” Howard said. “The derby went really well last night — Don Geldner ran it and he did a heck of a job for us — I think the food is doing good and we’ve got the fiddlers’ contest (Sunday) and that always draws a crowd.”

He attributed the fair’s success in large part to tradition.

“People come from all over to get together and socialize, families come back in — people come back from New York and California for this,” Howard said. “It’s been going on for 64 years and it’s just a community tradition.”

Family ties are what bring Terry Rehna of Portland back every year.

“I come every year because I get to see a lot of old friends,” he said.

A graduate of South Callaway schools based in Mokane, this year Rehna brought the Mustang convertible that carried the grand marshals through the parade Saturday morning, displayed a 1956 Chevy pickup in the vintage car show and emceed the Kids Tractor Pull Saturday afternoon.

Carla Meyer of Eugene said she comes back every year because she was born and raised in Mokane and it’s a family tradition — her late mother, Margaret Meyer, served as the grand marshal several years ago.

“I come to see my family and all my friends and school mates,” Meyer said. “We always enjoy the parade and then come down for lunch and Bingo.”

Mary Head of Mexico said she also comes every year to see family — her nieces and nephews all live in the area — and because she likes to play bingo.

Larry Martin of Fulton said he comes to the Mokane Fair for the mutton sandwiches and because he likes attending all of the area festivals and events.

“It’s just something I do,” Martin said.

The next generation also enjoys the fair.

“I’m coming here to see the derby cars because they crash into each other,” said Jaxon Jarvis, 6, of New Bloomfield, who chased younger brother Zane and friend Gavin Stumpf around the fair grounds while they waited for the derbies to begin Friday night.

Howard also mentioned the live music as a big attraction, noting that Dan G. Smith — who performed with the Timber River Band on Friday night and performs at numerous area events — will soon make an appearance at a show in Branson. Entertainment Saturday night included a Motown show and area band Black Water.

Local bands Countryfied and Coveralls will be performing tonight at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively.

Also on the agenda for the Mokane Fair today are the traditional all-day bingo, the Jake Hockemeyer Memorial “Old Fiddlers Contest” at 3 p.m. and the antique truck and tractor pull at 7 p.m. There will be fireworks following the truck and tractor pull.

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