SEMO fair off to another rousing start

The SEMO District Fair starts today. This annual event has tremendous impact on the region. The fair, which goes through Sept. 14, is almost as much a part of Cape Girardeau as the Mississippi River or Cape Rock.

Thousands from the Bootheel to near St. Louis count it among their earliest memories. Countless new memories will be made for the thousands who attend this year. Maybe it will be the booths inside and outside of the A.C. Brase Arena Building. The food. The rides.

It's the 147th year for the fair, which means the event has been running longer than this newspaper. But no doubt these items culled from the Southeast Missourian's "Out of the Past" feature will jog some memories:

Sept. 21, 1921 -- Despite rain of early morning, races at Cape Girardeau County Fair start in afternoon, and the track is in good condition. All other business at the fair proceeds full force with fairly large attendance. The Wild West show attracts great attention.

Aug. 15, 1946 -- Construction of the foundation for a new race horse barn to serve the Southeast Missouri District Fair begins at the new city park. N. & E. Supply Co., which has a contract for erection of the steel structure, plans to have the building completed in plenty of time for the exposition Sept. 9-14. The building will be 60 feet wide and 100 feet long and will contain stalls to accommodate 64 animals.

Sept. 13, 1968 -- While Arena Park hums with activity as thousands of rural residents take advantage of All Counties Day at the Southeast Missouri District Fair, those in charge are looking forward to events of weekend. Two new events are scheduled: a performance by Semo Shrine Mounted Patrol of Sikeston on Saturday and an exhibit of a 20-ton, 38-foot frozen whale named Little Irvy.

Sept. 13, 1983 -- "Off to a great start" is the way Southeast Missouri District Fair Board president Earl W. James describes Monday's beginning of 128th annual exposition. Fair skies and a better-than-fair-sized first-day crowd have fair officials optimistic about rest of week.

Sept. 7, 1997 -- Horses of all ages, sizes and temperaments competed Sunday in the Ninth Annual SEMO Fair Horse Show. Some were more excited about it than others and reared, snorted, stomped and neighed while being shown.

No doubt there will be much to tell in the pages of this newspaper in the coming week, including stories about the weather and horses and shows.

Consider the jam-packed schedule. There will be two tractor pulls today, one with antique vehicles and the other with modern-day tractors. Sunday there's a pet parade, horse show and beauty contest. Monday there's a demolition derby.

Fair organizers were sensitive to the event's timing, scheduling a patriotic parade and religious service for Wednesday, the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

And the whole thing is capped off with a performance by well-known Southern rock band .38 Special on Sept. 14.

So much more is wedged in between. See you there.