The fair is kicking off this week, but the fairgrounds don’t look this good by accident. Leon Meyer and his crew; Bill Shirkey Jr., Roger Hodge,
Rachel Cunningham and Tom Shirkey, have been fixing up the fair grounds for more than a month.
On the 4-H, FFA side, Colleen Peterson, Troy Walz, Jessye Goertz and their crew have been doing the same. “The buildings don’t get clean by themselves,” said Peterson. “We have a schedule of what has to be finished each day to be ready on time.”
Every year before the fair, the crew starts shaping up the fairgrounds in their free time - whenever they can snag it - about a month before fair week. The real down and dirty work comes about a week before fair and doesn’t end until after the fair is over and done with.
“They [the crew] had last Sunday off, but we’ll work for the next 13 to 14 days non-stop. And we work long days once fair starts just because there is so much to do,” said Meyer.
There is a never ending list of things that need to get done, and the crew’s work doesn’t end when fair starts. Before the fair, the crew mostly has general clean up to do; cleaning barns, checking speakers, moving bleachers and the likes are all important to get done before
“I’ve got a really good crew,” Meyer said, “They all pitch in and they work hard. We all put in a lot of hours to make this happen.”
The fairgrounds are used for a lot, in and out of fair season, and there are a lot of different preparations that go into each event.
For example, when the cutting horse show took place a few weeks ago, Barn 18, which hosts the horse shows, had to be filled with sand. However, the first equestrian showing of the fair is miniature ponies, and they requested a much harder surface.
“The miniatures pull these little carts around, so they need the ground a lot harder,” Meyer explained, “so we had to pull all the sand from the cutting horses out and then we got a ground compacter in here to flatten it all out.”
Different showings will require different surfaces through-out the week, so the crew will spend a lot of their time shifting terrain to meet the
requests of the different shows. One of the biggest challenges for the crew this year has been the weather. The sweltering temperatures and impressive drought have made for poor working conditions and extra responsibilities.
“Most years we have a lot of mowing to do as well but it’s been so dry this year that we don’t have to mow! The dry is a problem though,” Meyer confessed, “we have to water the arenas every year, but this year we’ll have to do it once a day to keep the dust down.”
Meyer and his crew aren’t the only group prepping the fairgrounds.
While Meyer’s crew does a lot of the general cleaning and primping, the 4-H Club sets up inside the buildings. Each year the Agricultural
Society hires two students during Fair Weeks to help set up, clean up and keep the fair running smoothly. This year those students are Kelsey Foster and Desiree Catlett. This is Catlett’s first year as a fair assistant, but Foster has been helping for three years. Both are incoming seniors at Broken Bow High School who are involved in 4-H.
Catlett is the President of FFA, as well as an active 4-H member. The girls have been helping Peterson, Goertz and Walz and will continue
to do so to help the fair run smoothly. A lot of work goes into the
County Fair, no matter where it is. County Fairs are a tradition, one that is annually upheld across the nation, particularly in the Mid-West. The County Fair only comes along once a year, so be sure to head out to the fairgrounds while it’s in town. See you at the Fair.