Fair to feature cornucopia of events but no carnival

No carnival this year, but for the first time the main musical act will perform in Marion

Staff writer

The 83rd annual Marion County Fair is right around the corner, and this year there are some big changes.

For the first time, the main musical act will perform in Marion, and for the first time in two years, there will not be a carnival.

Country gospel singer, Susie McEntire is scheduled to sing at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Sports and Aquatic Center.

USD 408’s facilities provide an indoor venue that is both air-conditioned, and handicap accessible.

McEntire has awards from the Nashville Network, Country Music Association, and Canadian Country Music Association. She was named “Artist of the Year” several times in the field of “Positive Country Music.”

During concerts McEntire tells stories about her early Christian experiences between songs.

She has produced 18 albums to date and also plays celtic, jazz, and Christmas numbers.

Eastmoor Methodist Church and the Emmanuel Baptist Church will sell tickets in Marion and Hillsboro MB Church and Hillsboro United Methodist in Hillsboro.

Fair Manager, Kelli Savage said Tuesday that there were several reasons why a carnival would not be included this year.

“The main issue is scheduling,” Savage said.

She also said that out of the 105 counties in Kansas, 90 of the fairs or festivals were in the month of July. Of those 90, 25 occur at the same time or overlap the Marion County Fair, which used to be in August.

She said out of the 25 remaining counties, 11 have a larger population than Marion and 10 have a higher median household income and thus are more likely to attract a carnival.

“As with any group circuit, word gets around where the money is and isn’t,” Savage said. “Most carnivals want a $10,000 to $35,000 guarantee. The fee has to be paid up front. It is hard to raise that kind of money.”

In comparison, McEntire’s fee for musical entertainment was only $5,000.

In addition to a carnival’s guarantee, ticket sales go directly to the carnival. But the fair must absorb other costs.

“We also have electrical and water expenses,” Savage said.

Some carnivals provide a percentage of their income to help cover added utility expenses.

But, Savage said, “we often don’t receive any kickback.”

The fair board considered changing the date. Savage said having the fair before July 4 would bring up issues regarding display animals and crop exhibits because of the timeline for slaughter and harvest.

If the fair were scheduled later in August, livestock and crops might be too far along to display, she said. An August date might also cause a conflict for school-age participants.

“The majority of the fair board members would like to be able to contract a carnival,” Savage said. “It is simply not feasible with our budget.”

However, the fair will include a number of other events.

The annual parade will start at 6:30 p.m. July 24, and proceed from N. Main Street to D Street in Hillsboro, finishing at the fairgrounds.

After the parade will be free snow cones, a watermelon feed, exhibitors, and a kids’ tractor pedal pull.

The pedal pull is a free event open to children ages 4 through 12. The top three finishers in each age category will receive a medal and be eligible to compete in the State Fair in Hutchinson. Preregistration will begin at 6 p.m. and the event will start at 7:30 p.m. July 24. Contestants are strongly recommended to wear shoes.

The Kraft Rodeo will begin at 8 p.m. July 24 and 25 including saddle bronc, barrel racing, bull riding, and steer wrestling. Local entrants are encouraged to participate.

Kids are encouraged to enter the Mutton Bustin’ and Calf Scramble events.

For more information and to register contact Steve Kraft at (620) 200-4081.

A truck and antique tractor pull will begin at 7p.m. July 26 in the fair arena. Registration will begin at 5 p.m. Local talent will compete for prizes and bragging rights. For entry information, call Myron Regier at (620) 367-8277.

The 41st annual demolition derby will start at 7p.m. July 27. Preregistration deadline is Monday. Entry forms and rules are available online at www.marioncountyfairks.org, or at a number of automotive repair and parts dealers. Tickets are available at the arena ticket booth.

The Ag Challenge of Champions will start at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Foods Building on the fairgrounds. The competition recognizes 4-H or FFA agriculture- and livestock-oriented youth. There are three age divisions. Cash awards and agriculture-related prizes will be awarded. Those interested should contact their local FFA adviser or email the fair at mncofairmanager@yahoo.com.

Other highlights include a cow patty bingo contest. Squares will be sold July 24, 25, and 26, for $5 each or 5 squares for $20. The winner will receive $100.

There is also a dance on from 9 to 11 p.m July 26. The dance is free and open to the public. There will be a DJ.

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