SEMO District Fair expecting higher turnout this year

Friday, September 11, 2009
Randy Eggimann towed a late 1800s model hay bailer at the SEMO District Fair on Saturday, September 8, 2007. (Kit Doyle)

The 154th SEMO District Fair kicks off Saturday, and organizers are expecting an even better turnout than last year, which had the highest attendance in five years, fair spokesman Pete Poe said Thursday.

Poe recently returned from the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo., and said it experienced a "phenomenal" increase in attendance, particularly on the last day.

Fair organizers he's talked to in other states reported similar spikes in the size of this year's crowds, he said.

Last year's attendance of 103,901 was about 7 percent more than the number of those who visited the eight-day fair in 2007, but organizers have reported a steady increase over the past several years, Poe said.

Poe cited the recession as one possible contributor to the increased interest in inexpensive community events like the fair.

"People are staying closer to home, and it's working for fairs and festivals," Poe said.

The first day of the fair is expected to be sunny and clear with a high of around 84 degrees, but there's a chance of thunderstorms next week, according to the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

Admission to the fair stays at $4 per night and $25 for a weekly pass. "Wristband specials" that allow unlimited access to midway rides at the Lowery Carnival section are offered from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 18 (kiddie rides only) and from noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 19,

The dual demolition derby, one of the fair's most popular events, will be held at the grandstand at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Grandstand performances include Little Big Town on Thursday, Joe Nichols on Sept. 18 and John Michael Montgomery on Sept. 19.

This year marks the start of the fair's first draft horse pull, and it's the first year that livestock exhibits and judging will take place all eight days, Poe said.

A "Guitar Hero" contest has also been added to the fair's itinerary this year.

Those looking to eat their way along the midway can try the new Cajun food concession stand, as well as a few new stands offering beef and pork goodies, Poe said.

"I'm not sure what the hot new exotic food will be this year, like deep-fried Snickers or deep-fried banana, but one will show up," Poe said.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

388-3635

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