Attendance Numbers Strong for Guthrie County Fair
Organizers of the Guthrie County Fair were hoping to see an increase in attendance in 2017, and they got it. Grant Sheeder, president of the Guthrie County Fair Board, said Tuesday morning there are no official numbers for overall attendance yet, but the four-day fair is expected to be a record breaking summer event.“We had record attendance this year with Saturday being the biggest day after the parade,” Sheeder said. Sheeder attributed the uptick in attendance to comfortable weather conditions and free carnival rides. “After all the time the board and the many other volunteers put in this summer, it was nice the weather was so nice to let people come see the fair in comfort,” he said. The fair, with a theme of “It Brings The Kid Out In You” celebrates 4-H members and includes farm animals, rides and entertaining grandstand events. The carnival had higher attendance than in years past, and Sheeder said the free wristbands likely played a large part in that. Over 2,200 wristbands were handed out on Saturday alone. “The carnival was a major hit with families,” Sheeder said, as parents shared their gratitude for not having to spend $20 per child to ride the rides this year. The Mind Winder, Berry Round and The Black Hole were among the ride favorites this year. The Hilly Billy Barn Slides also kept youngsters heading back for more. “The Black Hole makes my stomach tickle,” said one young boy, who by Saturday night had stood in line 12 times for the ride, that spins riders and tips them sideways in the air. It is clear the grandstand events were also a big hit with standing room only for the Figure 8 races Saturday night. More people also came to the Mutton Busting Rodeo than in previous years. The Arch Allies entertained a crowd Sunday evening. “The grandstand was packed,” Sheeder said. In a first at the grandstands Sunday evening, the 2018 Guthrie County Fair Queen coronation returned to the fairgrounds. Christina Wilson, who coordinates the Guthrie County Fair Queen contest introduced the contestants before crowning Chelsea Larsen, daughter of Cody and Julie Larsen of Guthrie Center as the 2018 Guthrie County Fair Queen. Samantha, daughter of Jason and Wendy Sloss of Guthrie Center was first runner-up, and Hope Arganbright, daughter of Dave and Chris Arganbright of Panora was named second runner-up. Wilson said it was a pleasure to work with all the contestants, “All seven of these beautiful young ladies behind me did a fabulous job and any one of them will be a wonderful representative of our county,” Wilson said. As the 2018 Guthrie County Fair Queen, Larsen will begin her reign January 1, 2018. She will oversee the Guthrie County Fair and all Guthrie County local fair events, as well as represent Guthrie County at the Iowa State Fair next August. The 2017 Fair Queen, MaKenna Woodvine thanked those in attendance for supporting her and everyone involved in the fair this year. “I had such an amazing time. This is an experience I will have for the rest of my life,” Woodvine said. “It has gone by so fast.” Woodvine said her favorite memory serving as Guthrie County Fair Queen was from the State Fair this summer. “There was 103 of us to compete at the State Fair and it was so amazing to meet every single one of them,” she said. “I know I’ll keep in touch with a handful of them for the rest of my life. It’s an experience I will keep with me.” Woodvine was visible throughout the fair over the long weekend, whether wearing her heels, or her boots and handing out ribbons in the show rings. Fair Board secretary Jolene Sheeder said open class exhibits and open class exhibitor numbers were both up this year. “Lots of great comments about the two new barns,” she said. “All of the work the many, many volunteers and the fair board put in this past year did not go unnoticed.” The airy barns with their new lighting and modern look were welcome sights for many. Kael Rutledge, 14, was one of many 4-H members happy to bring his three rabbits to the new small animal barn this year. “They are really nice, a huge improvement,” Rutledge said. “They are so open and it doesn’t feel like a cage.” Rutledge, who serves at the Intermediate Prince at the Fair, handing out ribbons to winners, was one of several 4-H members who began some early fundraising efforts for the new small animal barns years ago. He recalls bringing a can and collecting donations for the barns. Rutledge also pointed out the new electrical outlets that provide ease for members and their animals. “There are six more over there,” he said. “We used to have extension cords here.” Rutledge said there’s been talk about running a concrete floor in the buildings, but for now, he and his furry friend, Henry, are pleased with their new home at the fair. The new cattle barn was also in full use at the fair and a welcome improvement to those who spent time there. Grant Sheeder said the Fair Board and volunteers will continue to make improvements and provide new things. “We have made a lot of progress, but have some things we still need to tweak and would like to add in the years to come,” he said. “We’re looking forward to next year.