Darren Doyle, story: Madison Doyle, photos:
Crowd sizes at this year's fair were unlike any seen in recent years, according to newly elected Edmonson County Lions Club Fair Board Chairman Donnie Turley.
Turley helped lead the way in revamping this year's Edmonson County Fair, which had all but faded away in distant memory, post the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fair, which was in decline even before Covid, got a much needed facelift this year from a new and improved carnival company, which was overwhelmingly approved by the attending nightly crowds, according to Turley. Paradise Amusements was contracted for this year's carnival, which took a large financial commitment from the Lions Club--a risk they haven't taken in years. Turley described working them as "great."
"Their staff was all very professional and all the rides and concessions were very well maintained and clean," he said. "Nothing looked out of place and to my knowledge, all rides worked throughout the duration of the fair. No breakdowns like previous carnivals."
It was easy to tell that the rides at this year's fair were on a different level than the previous carnivals, which haven't even been set up at the fair since 2019. There were at least 4-5 rides suitable for adults and bigger kids, several medium-level attractions for all ages, and a whole selection for small kids as well as a midway full of carnival food and games. Turley said the feedback from the community was extremely positive.
"Everyone was so happy that we were able to bring back a carnival that was fun and safe for everyone. It was overwhelming the amount of support and positive comments we received."
CLICK HERE FOR FAIR DAY PHOTOS
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE 2023 FAIR DAY PARADE
CLICK HERE TO VIEW MUD BOG PHOTOS
CLICK HERE FOR PARADE PHOTO SLIDESHOW
Traffic was at a standstill in approximately two miles in both directions from the fairground gates on Saturday night for the demolition derby finale. There was no traffic control and several fair-goers said it took over an hour to drive just a few miles to the fairgrounds and then actually make it inside the gate. Edmonson County Judge/Executive Scott Lindsey, also a Lions Club member, said he estimated at least 3,000 attendees at the demolition derby alone.
Turley said that while rain knocked out the truck pull about halfway through on Tuesday's opening night, the rest of the crowds were steady and eager.
"We had a great opening night with the truck pull" he said. "I think that everyone was just so eager to get to finally come to the fair, plus we brought the truck pull back after not having one for so many years. But undoubtedly, the biggest night in our fair's history was Saturday for the demolition derby. We don’t have exact numbers for attendance but it was unreal how many people showed up."
The phrase "if you build it, they will come," rang true in Edmonson County for this year's fair. It was proof that people will pay a higher price for better quality. Admission was raised to $15 per person this year from the normal $10 that the fair has charged for many years.
The Edmonson Voice has covered and promoted the fair each year of our existence and has seen heavy criticism from the public when discussing all things fair-related. Public comment was much different this year, even including the Fair Day Parade, which saw many more decorated floats, like the ones seen years ago.
The Voice posted to Facebook the same traffic photo above of the line of traffic waiting to enter the fair on Saturday night and comments of support immediately came pouring in.
"We were there last night and had a great time with all the family," said Bridgette Hester on Facebook. "They had a great turnout and I was told that they would be back next year that the fair had had great attendance over the week. I’m so glad to hear this because it was such a huge event in my school days and I’d like for everyone to have the Edmonson fair memories like I have."
Dozens of similar comments on Facebook followed.
"This what will be talked about for years to come," said Hank and Sherry Vincent.
"Well, with this kind of turn out, the turn out all week, and the hard work that the Lions club has put into this fair, this should be the most lucrative fair they have had in years. Good for them!!!" said Wally Ritter.
There were also those that were critical of the fair, including Katherine Lindsey, who commented "Not worth the hassel [sic]. Not worth $15 to get a $10 funnel cake." Others also said it was overpriced for the attractions, but the majority of the comments and attitude was definitely positive.
"We had amazing support from local businesses as well as individuals that wanted to help," Turley said. "And not just local businesses, but from businesses from surrounding counties too. It was great."
He said another truck and tractor pull is scheduled for September 30th as a result of the rain out last week. Final details will be available soon.
"As for future plans, we hope to have a membership drive to get more people from the county involved that want to continue to see this get bigger and better," added Turley. "We hope to add an event for family night next year as well."
He also said plans for next year are already on the table with even more scheduled events in discussion.
To find out more about becoming part of the Edmonson County Lions Club, message them on Facebook, call 615-418-7715, email Duvall3734@windstream.net, or contact any Lions Club member.