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Taylor County Fair to last nine days

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Carnival will run from May 30 through June 7.

 

Leslie Moore

lmoore@cknj.com

While winter's cold and wet weather shows no sign of relenting anytime soon, members of the Taylor County Fair Association are already getting warmed up for this year's fair. For the first time in the fair's 17-year history, the amusement rides and attractions will be extended to nine days.

The carnival will open Friday, May 30, and run through Saturday, June 7.

Mike Litchfield, president of the Taylor County Fair Association, said Miller Spectacular Shows had a gap in their schedule between a festival in Arkansas and their original plan to set up in Campbellsville on June 1.

"We weren't looking to go to nine days, but the situation kind of presented itself," Litchfield said.

The livestock shows are always scheduled for the Saturday before the carnival opens, so Litchfield and other board members will already be on site to ensure a smooth set up.

This is also the first year Miller Spectacular Shows will provide the carnival after a contract was announced last month. For the past four years, Myers International Midways provided the carnival but recently downsized its operation and notified the Association that it won't be returning to any fairs in Kentucky.

Litchfield and other Association members recently met with the Millers at the Kentucky Association of Fairs and Shows and said they are very impressed with the quality and selection of amusements they will bring to the fair. The Millers used Google Earth to show members how the carnival will be laid out on the fairgrounds.

"They bring ideas to the table that our other carnival providers in the past have not really been open to, such as opening on Saturday," Litchfield said.

Litchfield said having the fair run through two weekends will serve as an "insurance policy" in case of bad weather. It will also give fairgoers the option of choosing which weekend will work best for their schedule.

While attendance of the horse show was down last year because of heavy rain, Litchfield said the Association was pleased with overall fair attendance.

"We were fortunate last year," Litchfield said. "For several of the fairs in our area, it wasn't uncommon for them to have three or more nights of rain and that's detrimental."

Last year's fair attendance topped 12,000, and Litchfield said the Association is hoping the three-day extension will push that number to 15,000.

"We're pretty well recognized across the state," Litchfield said.

Although the Millers have been in business for more than 50 years, this will be their first time contracting with fairs in Kentucky and Taylor County is their first stop. Litchfield is predicting representatives from the seven other Kentucky counties where the Millers will be setting up to take advantage of the first opportunity to see them in action.

Despite the change in companies, Litchfield said the price of admission will stay at $10. A family night with a reduced admission price of $8 is also scheduled.

"We feel like $10 is very good value for all that you get to take part in," Litchfield said. "And you know, it's once a year."

Litchfield said all fair profits are strictly used for producing the next year's fair. The fair also provides free space to nonprofit organizations, schools and churches wanting to promote or fundraise for their organization.

The Association is a nonprofit organization and now has tax exempt status. The Association is hopeful this will help attract more sponsorships and individuals wanting to donate to the fair.

"We're close to $100,000 in expenses," Litchfield said. "It adds up quick with attractions that cost anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000 per event."

Litchfield said the Association tries to be as frugal as they can with their available funding because they know a couple nights of bad weather can mean having to borrow money for the next year's fair.

In addition to the events, the Association is also responsible for an $8,500 lease payment to the American Legion as well as utilities and the cost to provide portable toilets.

The Association also just received an estimate of about $25,000 to replace two sections of bleachers that were damaged by the Dec. 21 tornado.

Litchfield said the Association is aware of grants from the United States Department of Agriculture that can be used to improve infrastructure and grounds such as new buildings, bleachers and permanent bathrooms. However, in order to be eligible to receive these grants, the fairgrounds must be owed by the association or set up on a 20-year long-term lease. He said purchasing land for the fairgrounds or getting a long-term lease is the Association's long-term goal.

But for now, Litchfield said their main priority is doing all they can to make this year's fair an enjoyable experience for all ages. One issue they are well aware of and exploring options to improve on is the noise level.

"If you're up doing a beauty pageant or musical event and you're 50 yards away from a loud truck going down the track, it creates a little problem but we've had it for 17 years," Litchfield said. "People have come to be accustomed to that. That's how it is out there."

Litchfield said the Association is always looking at adding new attractions as well as bringing back some crowd favorites. More details about this year's event schedule will be announced at a later date.

For more information about the fair, contact Litchfield at (270) 789-9468 or visit www.taylorcountyfair.org.