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Crawford County Fair draws a larger crowd
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crawford county fair

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Almost ideal weather and some very popular grandstand shows may have combined to set some attendance records at last week’s Crawford County Fair.

While exact attendance numbers for the county fair, were not available, those who have worked and attended the fair over the last 20-some years couldn’t recall any larger crowds.

“We definitely parked cars, where we have never parked cars before,” Crawford County Ag Agent Vance Haugen said of the Saturday night crowd.

How big was the Saturday crowd for the popular demolition derby?

“It was a huge, huge crowd Saturday night for the demo derby,” said Crawford County Board Chairperson Pete Flesch. “The grandstand was totally filled. We brought in some temporary bleachers and chairs to accommodate the crowd. Saturday night was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen. We will definitely look into adding more temporary bleachers next year.”

Flesch believes changing the price structure to a gate admission for everyone coming into the fair with no charge for parking or the grandstand shows has caused the increase in attendance.

“People have warmed to the idea of a gate admission and no charge for the grandstand shows,” Flesch said. “They’ve realized it’s a good bargain.”

Another reason for the increasing attendance at the demo derby may be the decreasing number of demolition derby events being staged. Even the fair has gone from an afternoon and evening event to just the evening derby. The spring derbies formerly held by the fire department at the fairgrounds were also dropped in recent years. The major reason seems to be a lack of cars for the event. High scrap metal prices and the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ buyback program have decreased the availability of the demo cars.

This year, the Gays Mills Fire Department, which had run the event as a fundraiser in the past, decided to no longer run the derby. The county hired Hard Hit Promotions, a Lancaster-based company specializing in producing demo derbies, to run the event. And, things seemed to work out fine with the new company.

“They’re happy with us and we’re happy with them,” Flesch noted. Although the local fire department was no longer running the demo derby, firefighters were on hand to assist with the event.

Flesch was also quick to praise the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Deputies for an excellent job of directing the large number of vehicles in and out of the parking lots.

However, it wasn’t just the grandstand shows that attracted the large crowds, according to Crawford County UW Extension Family Living Agent Jane Schaaf. She noted that while the large crowd overflowed the grandstand seating into the temporary bleachers and chairs on Saturday night, there was a large crowd on the fairgrounds itself.

“Not everybody was in the grandstand by any means on Saturday night,” she said.

Schaaf went on to explain that the exhibits this year were excellent and lots of people viewed them.

UW-Extension Youth Agent Amy Mitchell was also impressed by the quality and quantity of the 4-H exhibits a this year’s fair.

“It was awesome,” Mitchell said of this year’s county fair. “It was really successful, as it usually is, but maybe even a bit more successful this year.”

Meanwhile, Crawford on the Move’s 5K Run-walk on Saturday morning attracted more than 100 people. One 5K participant told Schaaf that running through parts of the village they had never seen before, proved a rather interesting experience.

Schaaf, the superintendent of the Cultural Arts Department, found herself very impressed with the creativity of people’s exhibits.

“I’m just grateful so many people were there to enjoy the fair and I hope they come back next year,” Schaaf said.