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It’s ‘fair’ weather again

The sign was too tempting to pass up. In the middle of the midway at this year’s St. Francois County Fair the marquee stated “Fool the Guesser”. It was up to the fairgoer to determine what they wanted Ted Henderson to guess. If he was unable to determine a person’s age within two years, their weight within three pounds or the month they were born in within two months, they could walk away with a prize. Was there a science that this man from Mississippi used?

“Well, I look at men and women differently. For the ladies, it is their hands that often give them away. For the men, it is their hair or wrinkles on their face,” he shared.

But what about the weight? Henderson admitted that he had more hugs than slaps when trying to guess the weight of a person.

“I can’t afford to offend anyone,” he joked.

Henderson has been traveling with Bluff City Shows for the past couple of years. He retired after many years of hard work and said he enjoys the traveling and meeting people from all around. But on the first night of the fair, business was a little slower than he hoped.

“But it’s early and it will pick up,” he added.

On the animal side of the fair Tuesday night, many families were still preparing the areas around the stalls that will serve as their “homes” for the next few days. Lisa Soden of French Village was adding a special touch above the stalls where the sheep that her children will bring to the fair will reside.

“I hang little curtains to make it look nice. It is common to see people decorate their stalls at the state fair, so we thought we would try it here,” she said.

Soden’s children will be bringing in two different breeds of sheep. One is the Suffolk breed and the other is the Tunis breed. The Tunis is the oldest breed in the country and is not very common in this area.

“George Washington had the Tunis breed on his farm and the breed started to die out after the Civil War. It is making a comeback and we enjoy bringing in a breed that is not very common,” Soden added.

The Soden family started off with only four sheep and later bought a herd of twenty. Following a visit to the World Sheep Festival earlier this year, the family bought nine more. Soden and her husband also rehab old farm equipment to be used by Amish farmers. The sheep are used to “mow” around the equipment.

“We use them as weedeaters,” she said. “Sheep are very easy to take care of.”

Soden admitted that she was a city girl until she married her farming husband. But it did not take long for her to catch the farming bug.

“Once you get the fever, you never lose it,” she shared.

Soden feels that the experience of the fair is one that her children will never forget.

“This is a great environment for the kids. They learn responsibility in taking care of the sheep, showing them and then selling them. We meet a lot of really nice people,” she added.

Today is Family Day at the fair, with tomorrow being Jr. Livestock Show Day followed by Kid’s Day on Saturday. A number of events have been scheduled for these days, including Demolition Derby and Tractor Pull special events on Friday and Saturday nights. John Conlee is in concert at 7:30 tonight at the grandstand. Preceding the concert will be a Back Seat Drivers contest as well as a Youth Benefit Auction. Gate admission is $3 per person each day, with an additional admission charge at the grandstand for the events on Friday and Saturday nights.

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