It was not a record setting year, but Highland County Fair Board President Mark Baldwin said the 2019 fair that concluded Saturday was a good one.
“I think we a good fair. We had good attendance, good weather, and I think we had a little bit of something to offer everyone,” Baldwin said. “Last year was a washout with pretty much all bad weather, so we had a lot better attendance than then. It was not the highest we’ve ever had, but it was a pretty good turnout numberswise.”
For the first time in several years, the fair ran seven days, from Sunday, Sept. 1 to Saturday, Sept. 7. Baldwin said that seemed to work well compared to the eight-day, Saturday to Saturday lineup the fair previously employed. He said the change allowed many exhibitors to bring their livestock in the Saturday before the fair started and gave a lot of the folks working with the swine a chance to have a Friday night off when high school football is being played.
“It was a little chaotic for a while, but it worked well in the end,” Baldwin said.
One of the new attractions at the fair this year was an open talent contest that awarded a grand prize of $1,000, plus runner-up awards of $800, $600, $400 and $200. Baldwin said there were 25 entrants in the first round of competition Friday, then 10 finalists were brought back to perform two musical selections Saturday night. Baldwin said the fair board hopes to bring the contest back next year.
“It’s hard at our fair to do a lot with big-time entertainment. It seems like it if makes noise and smokes, our crowds are happy,” he said, referring to tractor pulls, a demolition derby, autocross and ATV and motorcycle races that are mainstays of the local fair. “I thought the people in the competition were just as good as decent entertainment, the crowd knew a lot of the people on stage, and everyone seemed to like it.”
Baldwin said that some things will likely be tweaked slightly before next year’s fair, but it is too early right now to know exactly what may change.
In addition to the normal crowds that arrive at the fair daily, Baldwin said the fair board rents out 300 camper spots each year. He said that’s all the camping sites the fair has, and there is awaiting list for people who want to camp all week at the fair. Most years there are not open spots on the list, but this year there were a few.
“A lot of those sites have been in the same family for generations, and grandparents will pass them on down to their grandchildren, so there’s not a lot of turnover,” Baldwin said. “The fair is like a social event. Sometimes people don’t see other people they know the whole year, so they come to the fair to see them.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.