SEMO District Fair mixes old fun, new excitement

Sunday, September 1, 2002

Organizers of the SEMO District Fair hope this year's event has something for everyone -- from mud drag races, a demolition derby and tractor pull to deep-fried candy bars.

Volunteers spent much of Saturday preparing the fairgrounds for opening day. Workers installed new metal benches in the grandstand to replace old wooden ones. Others landscaped the FFA barn or installed bricks on the commemorative walkway.

The fair opens Saturday. Parking is $3 per vehicle. Admission is $2 for adults and children 12 and older.

For the second year, the fair opens a day earlier and runs through Sept. 14. Special events and attractions are planned for each day.

One of the biggest events planned during the week is an observance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the anniversary.

The fair parade will take on a patriotic theme this year because of the attacks. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at Capaha Park and ends at the fairgrounds.

At 6:15 p.m. a community observance is planned. The event, "Heartland Remembers" is sponsored by the Cape Girardeau and Jackson Ministerial Alliances and the fair.

"We felt strongly that this was an event that could give people a common place to gather," said Pete Poe, a fair board member.

Poe said the attacks anniversary on Sept. 11 could easily create a somber mood in the nation but the parade gives people a chance to celebrate freedom and patriotism.

A new feature at the fairgrounds this year will be a special memorial corner near the FFA barn. Three flagpoles and a plaque honoring military personnel from the region have been installed.

More security has been added to the event, Poe said, though police officers have always patrolled the grounds.

But some things about the fair remain the same even after 147 years. Families still come to see the livestock exhibits, entries still trickle in for the home economics contests.

Just because things stay the same doesn't mean the fair has gotten too steeped in tradition. "Almost everything is new this year," Poe said.

Some of the big attractions will be the demolition derby, tractor pull and musical entertainment, which are fair traditions. A new event called the Mud Drags should be popular too, he said.

"We hope that people think we offer a family value and a place to meet old friends in a clean atmosphere," he said.

Amusement rides also bring some excitement to the fair. Astro Amusements will bring a new ride to the midway. The Mega Drop sends riders 130 feet into the air and then plunges them into a free fall.

"If you put a quarter in your hand and hold your palm open, you'll hit the ground before the quarter," Poe said.

Amusement rides operate from 5 to 11 p.m. most nights of the fair and arm bands providing access to all rides are available.

For more fair information, visit www.semofair.com.

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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