County fair perfect for leisure lovers and thrill seekers

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The Crawford County Fair’s grand stand will be ablaze on Friday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m., as the Blessed FMX Sport Stunt Show & Music by Menace will feature thrilling, cutting edge, freestyle motocross and ATV stunts and a classic rock band. Daily and season wristbands for the fair can be purchased at the gate for those ages 9 and older. Parking and grand stand admission are free. (Courier Press file photo)

Donna Giddings, of the Friends of the Fair, is pictured presenting 2014 Fairest of the Fair (ambassador) Sarah Achenbach with a sponsorship check from the organization. (Submitted photo)

The Friends of the Fair sponsor a lunch on Friday of the fair for Opportunity Center clients. It serves as a good way to get these citizens to get involved in the fair too. (Submitted photo)

By Correne Martin

No matter your age or your interest, there’s something for you to enjoy at the Crawford County Fair, which is set to begin Wednesday, Aug. 26, in Gays Mills. Perhaps your pleasure is leisurely eating pie and ice cream while taking in the farm animals and diverse, made-from-the-heart exhibits or attending the fast-paced motocross and ATV show or ranch rodeo. Maybe it’s hopping aboard a flashy carnival ride, challenging your soul in the 5K run/walk or showcasing your homemade wine in the Taste of the Kickapoo contest.

Festivities kick off Wednesday with a unique evening that celebrates the contributions and talents of the county. Beginning at 5 p.m., the Crawford County Conservation Awards will be presented. Competitors will enter their best cheesy cuisine in the grilled cheese contest at 6 p.m. A horse drill team show will also take place at 6 p.m., followed by the Taste of the Kickapoo at 7 p.m., featuring foods from the region. An 8 p.m. tribute to the late Bridget Achenbach will close the night.

Indoor exhibits, animal showing and animal walks, a medallion hunt, Nick’s Kid Show and the carnival (by Earl’s Rides) begin on Thursday and run daily through Saturday. Grand stand entertainment Thursday night includes a truck and tractor show put on by Southwest Pullers, featuring over 10 classes, at 7 p.m.

On Friday, a highlight of the day is an all-day scavenger hunt, in which posters are hung picturing people and animals. Fair-goers are asked to find these, get selfies with them and post them to the fair’s Facebook page.

A hypnotist will hold shows several times throughout Friday and Saturday. There will be composting and perennials seminars, by the county’s master gardeners, both days as well as 4-H robotics demonstrations and chicken poop bingo. Also, 4-H will have a blender bike at the fair both days, during which people can make their own thirst quencher.

Friday evening, 16 Strings and a Stick will play live music from 4 to 7 p.m., followed by a horse drill team show at 6 p.m., and a thrilling freestyle motocross and ATV stunt show at 7 p.m. in the grand stand.

Saturday will start at 8:30 a.m. with a 5K fun run/walk. There is an antique tractor pull at noon, the farmer bud show at 12:30 p.m. and the meat animal auction at 1 p.m. An alpaca show and a kids pedal tractor pull both begin at 3 p.m. At 3:30, a Buddy Holly Show will delight attendees. A tug-of-war contest featuring youth groups will be at 5:30. The night’s grand stand entertainment will be a demolition derby, put on by Hard Hit Promotions, at 7 p.m.

Sunday will wrap up another year with a cowboy ecumenical church service at 10 a.m. and Monty Berger & the Country Gold playing country music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A 4-H style show as well as a talent show are at noon and a ranch rodeo starts at 1 p.m. A kids casting contest will also be at 1 p.m.

To organize the 157-year-old Crawford County Fair to fit the needs and interests of the county’s residents and visitors, it takes a great number of volunteers. There’s the fair coordinator, Amanda Nagel, and the fair board. There are also 4-H clubs countywide, American Legion groups, church groups, business sponsors and invested individuals who help pull off the grandiose, annual expo. The Friends of the Fair are a little-known, yet important volunteer-based benefactor as well.

The Friends of the Fair started in 1999 when the fair board established it as an advisory group, though the organization’s first fair wasn’t until 2002.

“Our purpose is to promote the fair,” said Katrina Owens, Friends of the Fair secretary. “We have only about 10 group members, so there’s definitely room to grow.”

The Friends’ chief fundraiser is its food stand at the fair. All the proceeds go directly back to the fair, to help it improve and grow. This year, they will be selling brats, chicken breasts, pulled pork sandwiches, grilled cheese with real Wisconsin cheese, watermelon, big pickles and kids packs, which include a hot dog, string cheese, chips and juice for a few dollars.

“We introduced the kids pack in 2011 and it instantly became a big hit. It made fair food more affordable for a big family,” Owens noted.

Over the years, the Friends of the Fair have contributed where they could to make the various aspects of the Crawford County Fair as wonderful as possible. Owens listed the following as examples of the group’s past and current support: made picnic tables and wash racks, landscaped by the fair office, pushed for the beer tent to start and sponsored it, provided a lunch to Opportunity Center clients on Friday of the fair, provided a dance floor, sponsored big-name country music acts, supported the fair ambassador program, sponsored the best of class prizes for indoor exhibits, assisted with electrical upgrades, purchased folding benches/tables, planted memorial trees, hosted bingo and brought back cowboy church on Sunday of the fair.

Because the Friends are a small organization, they have sometimes found themselves spread thin in working at or otherwise supporting the fair. Owens said new members would certainly be welcome.

“We would love to have some people who could provide some fresh, new ideas to try to improve the fair. We could also use some help planning and working the fair,” she stated. “For next year’s fair, we’re looking at making a sturdier stage, something light but portable, and we will need extra hands in that area.”

Those interested could call her at (608) 412-0358 or stop by the Friends’ food stand at the fair.

Ultimately, the Friends of the Fair are available to support the fair in any way they can, just like the numerous other organizations do.

“It’s kind of like we’re one big family. We all work together to make the fair better,” Owens said.

For more information or for the full fair schedule with times of events, see the ad on page 20 of today’s Courier Press or visit

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