This year's fair was, to say the least and be polite, underwhelming.
That's not to take anything away from the wonderfully courteous and helpful volunteers.
Or the kids in the 4-H and Optimist Youth Ag programs who worked so hard on their animals and other projects during the year.
You've got to give those people a big hand.
But the carnival looked like something you'd see at a squadron picnic or a rich kid's birthday party. People expect more than blow-up ride and bouncy houses. There wasn't a lot of metal there. A big pin and a fast kid could have collapsed the whole thing in ten minutes.
The exhibit building had some great displays from the 4-H kids -- and not much else. The flowers looked wilted and the produce just hadn't had time to grow. If, following recent trends, they move the fair up any earlier, people might as well just bring in seeds to be judged.
The midway was poorly organized with booths back to back, instead of funneling people into a true midway alley. And there weren't many. The idea of limiting vendors to avoid competition between them does a disservice to fairgoers.
The limited entertainment was good, but there wasn't enough of it. Remember when former fair director Kathy Wylie had performers on the stage, from magicians to snake handlers, going off every 30-60 minutes from Wednesday through Saturday?
Frankly, the fair has essentially become a 4-H/Optimist Ag Youth event -- and not much else to justify the price of gas to get there.
The fair board and the fair director are open to suggestions, and since a fair should be planned about two years out, it may take two years to get any new ideas implemented. But the director is already talking about trying to move the fair back toward fall, closer to the time of the harvest that American fairs were originally created to celebrate. That's a good first step.
We'd suggest perhaps coordinating it with the Three Island Celebration in Glenns Ferry in early August. But it could also be moved into mid to late September, when things are cooler, it's easier to book a major carnival, and produce would have had time to fully ripen. It would interfere with school, but coordinate with a teacher inservice day or two and even that issue could be mitigated. There's also no reason the fair has to drag out over 7-8 days. You could do it in 3-4 (say Thursday to Saturday/Sunday) and have something going on almost continuously.
There are ideas out there to fix this thing. The people running it are willing to listen. A community effort to reinvigorate the fair is needed.
-- Kelly Everitt