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The Madison County Fair had a successful 2018 celebrating the towns bicentennial with the old fashioned theme.

Juli Kline from the Madison County Fair Board said the board was happy with the great crowd on Friday night and had an excellent response to the new additions.

"We had a great crowd Friday night to hear Rhubarbarella and have pie and ice cream," Kline said. "We were happy with the response for our first horse show, each division was represented. We also had an excellent turnout for the livestock shows, more cattle entries and rabbits than any other year and our Family and Environmental Science tent grows every year."

Kline also said she saw a lot of familiar faces enjoying the shows, live music, demonstrations and kids activities on Saturday and the truck and tractor pull had 58 tractor hooks and 41 truck hooks as well as lots of spectators throughout the day.

"We had beautiful weather, and everyone enjoyed a wonderful atmosphere," Kline said. "I think the new layout worked in our favor. Being closer together encouraged camaraderie and made it possible for everyone to enjoy the music."

Kline said the craft and food vendors prefer to have all the music and activities in the same location as them.

"Other than some minor traffic issues resulting from the location of the show ring across Church St. we had very little confusion about the location of events," Kline said. "On Friday evening we struggled with vehicles driving through North Main St. while we were hosting activities, although the streets were supposed to be closed."

Kline said one of the vehicles traveling past the livestock created an issue.

"One very large vehicle involved in the soil remediation project traveled in and out of the barriers, past our horse show four times, startling livestock and creating a lot of noise while they applied hydro-seeding slurry on the area of the park where the fair was occurring, despite our polite requests that they at least exit towards the courthouse and away from our show," Kline said. "I wouldn’t consider that a hiccup, but incredibly inconsiderate."

Kline said she was sure some members of the community missed the carnival rides but that the board did their best to provide alternative activities by hosting free games and bringing in a few larger activities.

“There is a difference between a fair and a festival," Fair Board Member Jenn McClanahand said. "A fair is a gathering of tradespeople and vendors for entertainment, commerce and education. Festivals are generally more entertainment focused.”  

Kline compared the fair to the Azalea Festival saying their focus as a county fair has always been about celebrating the agriculture, heritage and rural roots in a friendly and educational environment.

"Most families that I interact with every year are there to celebrate their hard work and achievements, to hear local musicians and enjoy fun, sometimes nostalgic games," Kline said.

The fair board is always looking for volunteers and anyone interested can contact the MU Extension Center at 573-783-3303.

"There is a small group of very dedicated volunteers that have kept the fair going for the last 17 years," Kline said. "We have some hard workers from the community that jump in during the week leading up to the fair that are indispensable as well, but we need help."

Kline also encourages the community to share experiences and let the board know what particular aspects they enjoyed.

The Madison County Fair Board would like to thank the local businesses and farms for their financial support as well as sponsors who make the livestock and home economics shows free to enter.

Kline said they would like to thank the livestock judges and MU Extension Council judges for the FES tent for taking the time to be thoughtful with their comments and work very closely with exhibitors to help them improve year after year.

"The Madison County Saddle Club hosted a fantastic horse show that I am sure will continue to grow," Kline said. "Thanks to the Higdon Christian Church ladies for their time serving and baking. All of our vendors, local artists and crafters that volunteered their time to demonstrate their skills."

McClanahand added thanks to all those who work behind the scenes and deserve recognition but never ask for it.

"Shannon Asher and Debbie Rehkop have been my right and left hands for the past six pulling events," McClanahand said. "None of us had a clue the first time we operated the registration and payout tables. It was a disaster and now runs like a well-oiled machine."

McClanahand said the truck and tractor pulls would not be the same without Dave Ward as the announcer calling him the voice of truck and tractor pulls. She also said Eli Whitener and Chris McClanahand are the heart of the Madison County truck and tractor pulls. 

"Despite some major setbacks this year, our volunteers rose to the challenge and created a really enjoyable fair weekend for our county," Kline said. "This community of volunteers work tirelessly to make the Madison County Fair great."

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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