White County Fair to kick off Sept. 6 with parade

By Tammy Garrett Published August 31, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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SEARCY — Although it still feels like the dog days of summer, fall is just around the corner, and that means back to school, back to football and, for White County, back to the fair. Kim Harrison, a member of the White County Fair Board of Directors, said going to the fair is something that comes naturally to residents in the county.

“It’s just what we do every year. We go to the fair and usually see people we haven’t seen since we went to the fair the year before,” she said.

Harrison said an additional weekend of the fair last year was successful, and the fair parade was moved to Saturday, a change that also received positive feedback.

Continuing that tradition, this year’s parade will kick off at 11 a.m. Sept. 6.

“Moving the parade to Saturday morning gave a few more groups a chance to be involved. It was also good for some of the downtown businesses because having the parade on Monday afternoon when a lot of them were closing for the day was inconvenient,” she said.

Following the parade on Saturday, a tractor pull will be held at noon at the White County Fairgrounds, 802 Davis Drive in Searcy. The first day of the fair will also include “buddy day,” which will provide a two-for-one carnival-ride opportunity for children who want to bring a friend or sibling to the fair.

The midway will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 7. After closing for two hours to accommodate the Sons of Thunder and Daughter of Light program, it will reopen from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

This year’s changes to the fair aren’t as sweeping as last year’s. However, members of the fair board have made some adjustments and additions they hope will make the event more fairgoer friendly, Harrison said.

The fair-queen contest will be back in its traditional location as the spotlight event on Sept. 8 at the fairgrounds. For the past few years, the queen competition had been relocated to Beebe, Harrison said.

A portable stage is being added between the exhibit halls and the midway. Space for the stage will be created by the removal of two small exhibit buildings that had housed horticultural exhibits. With the new arrangement, all exhibits will be displayed in the educational building, Harrison said. She added that this year, all exhibits will be judged before the gates open for the first day of the fair.

Live entertainment on a portable stage will be provided on the evenings of Sept. 10 and 11.

“This new stage will give people who don’t want to go all the way down to the main entertainment arena a chance to see live entertainment,” Harrison said. She noted that some seating in the bleachers will probably be made available for spectators.

Other modifications to the fair include the change of the market sale of junior livestock to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 12. In the past, the event had been held in the evening. Harrison said the fair board hopes the move will provide a more convenient time for local business people to attend.

Of course, many of the popular events that have been consistent draws at the fair will continue this year. At the top of that list is the demolition derby, which will occupy its usual closing-night slot on Sept. 13.

Another staple of the fair is Senior Citizens Day, which will be held Sept. 11. This event provides area seniors a chance to enjoy free admission to the fair, music, a free lunch and other activities. Senior Citizens Day is sponsored by White County Medical Center in Searcy, which “does a wonderful job every year,” Harrison said.

She said approximately 70,000 people attended the White County Fair in 2013. The event consistently ranks as one of the top county fairs in the nation, she said.

For more information on this year’s fair or to view a schedule of events, visit whitecountyfairgrounds.org or the White County Fairgrounds Facebook page.

None Tammy Garrett can be reached at .

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