Truly something for everyone at the Red Willow County Fair

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Southwest Nebraska is blessed with an abundance of community activities -- just ask Regional Editor Connie Jo Discoe, who plots her schedule like a championship chess master in order to cover the maximum number of events in time for the deadlines.

McCook's Buffalo Commons Festival and Reunion 2010 already made this summer one to remember, but this week is like no other on the calendar.

No event is specifically designed to pull a "county" together like the annual event that bears the name "county" fair.

The traditional toasty weather seems to have arrived in time for Red Willow County's version, preparations and pre-fair events already in full swing.

But what would a carnival ride or cool drink be like without July summertime Southwest Nebraska weather?

We hear one booth created something requiring 14 gallons of milk, three hundred bananas, 1,500 ounces of yogurt and 90 pounds of strawberries.

Who was it? What is the treat? You'll have to visit the commercial building at the fair to find out.

There truly is "Something for Everyone" as the Red Willow County Fair advertises, and it starts Wednesday with the Colgate Country Showdown at 6:30 at Kiplinger Arena, and ends with the NSRA Rodeo at 8 p.m. Sunday.

In between, there's the Lil' Red Tractor Pedal Pull at the Kiplinger Arena at 6 p.m. and stock car races at 7:30 p.m. Thursday; a show-and-shine semi truck show at 3 p.m. Friday followed by the Monster Truck Show and semi parade at 7:30 p.m. Saturday starts out with the New Balance McCook Bison 5K Challenge at the Community Building at 9:15 a.m., mutton busting at 4 p.m. at the Kiplinger Arena, followed by the Chore Relay, and the first day of the NSRA Rodeo at 8 p.m.

Sunday starts off with Cowboy Church in the Kiplinger Arena at 10 a.m. followed by the draft horse competition at 12:30 p.m. and the rodeo at 8 p.m.

And don't forget to visit the commercial building, 4-H exhibits, open class, food booths, midway and many other attractions.

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  • I am a big advocate of all the events that take place in our county (Red Willow) and those that neighbor us, even if I am not that interested in a specific event, I'm pleased to see them flourish, and before I continue, I would like to state that I absolutely oppose a negative posting........... that being said, I DO have a problem with our (Red Willow) County Fair.

    I recall a day sometime back when the fair was all too exciting to wait for, keeping in mind that I've aged significantly since then and the allure of spinning rides, and deep fat fried anything, well, just the notion of that upsets my stomach and we'll leave it at that.

    My issue isn't the food, actually I look forward to the church booth's food, no... my complaint is with the cost of the Midway. I realize that the cost of everything is going up but I'm just curious as to how much revenue the county gets back from the Midway. At a dollar a ticket, and minimum three tickets per ride, mostly four tickets a ride , I have to assume that there a many that can't come out to enjoy the fair like I remember doing as a child.

    At $4.00 per ride and the ride lasting anywhere from 2 minutes to 4 minutes, that means the Midway is clearing somewhere in the range of $ 60.00 an hour....PER PERSON! Let us speculate that there were 800 on lookers on any given night (a conservative number I'm sure), well that turns into a total of roughly $32,000.00 per night if everyone purchases $40.00 worth of ride tickets. (That sounds extreme but that number will be broken down further in this posting) That carries out over the duration of the fair from Wed- Sunday (5 days). So the Midway is picking up around $160,000.00 from our fair.

    If I'm not mistaken, the County gets some money back from the Midway, how much, percentage wise? This is where this is heading..... I've been to self owned and operated county fairs and I truly enjoy them. The rides are fairly priced, those running the rides are the good people of the community, and a family can both afford the carnival and feel good about putting their money spent, back into the county. I know it takes some capital outlay to get a county operated carnival up and running but couldn't some of the proceeds from what we are getting back from the midway be put toward some home owned rides? If the answer is "no we simply don't receive that much back" then I believe that we are employing the wrong carnival outfit. If we received 20% from the money earned by the Midway, that would be $32,000.00 for the year. How long would it take those numbers to accumulate enough to buy a ride or two.

    If we did manage to get a home owned carnival established then everything could be half priced and affordable and the non- profit gains may be in the range of $80,000.00 per year. A larger profit, cleaner and in my opinion better maintained carnival, while costing the participants half as much.

    The cost of the rides aren't my only annoyance though, those that man the rides, specifically this year are inhospitable at best. I took my three youngest children on rides Wednesday night and one would think that the most personable of ride tenders would be placed on the smaller kids rides if for no other reason than to NOT spook the children away, yet, I managed to get as little as a smile from all but 1, indeed, I couldn't even get them to make eye contact with me. ( Is this the type of carnival that we want to portray our County?)

    To further my frustrations, on the children's rides, there are height restrictions........ a good policy no question, but when a child's ride REQUIRES a parent or guardian to go along, one might think that the parent shouldn't have to use their kids tickets to do so. Let us calculate:

    24 tickets for $20.00, 4 tickets per ride, a parent participant mandated ride (ie the carousel) 8 tickets for the ride, for my children to ride on the attraction that they liked.... 2.5 rides for $20.00! As a parent of 7 children, I assure you, this county fair carnival is in no way FAMILY oriented, and certainly not affordable. For $20.00 per person, my family can enjoy a full day Oceans of Fun..... not just a total of 4 to 10 minutes.

    To me that's a fleecing and for my dollar I would much rather take my children 30 miles to the Decatur Co Fair in Oberlin where the ride and game operators are pleasant and actually appreciate your participation, the prizes aren't covered in dirt and stuffed with newspaper, AND, the money I spend, goes directly back to the place that I spend it, right there in Decatur County.

    I know that it takes a lot of volunteers to make a home owned carnival work but imagine the benefits.

    I DO need to add that the other events in our fair..... WONDERFUL! That is what a county fair should be like! Friends and neighbors getting together and having a good time at the exhibits, or over some burgers or ice-cream a-la-mode or taking in the evening events. Our communities from the county can pull that portion of the fair off without a hitch, I have faith in us stepping up to the challenge of offering a BETTER carnival, home owned or otherwise. The moral of this story, DON'T SETTLE for a carnival that fleeces our friends, family, and neighbors without a smile on their faces or a "Thank You" on their lips.

    I'm sorry for the negativity.

    -- Posted by PensiveObserver on Thu, Jul 29, 2010, at 12:05 PM
  • We also skip the Red Willow County fair and opt for the Decatur County fair for the very same reasons.

    For $20.00, you can spend all night at Oberlin winning prizes and going on rides. For the same $20.00, you'll be done in 15 minutes in McCook.

    My kids always have a better time in Oberlin...very friendly (and clean)operators...sometimes even giving second chances on some of the games.

    As a result, I haven't spent a dime at the Red Willow County fair in many years. Conversely, we have gone to Oberlin every year for almost 10 years now.

    As far as where the money goes, I believe my money is kept closer to the community when it is spent in Oberlin, than when being spent at the midway at Red Willow.

    I would love to see McCook with a home owned carnival and would gladly volunteer for that.

    -- Posted by Husker23 on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 9:37 AM
  • I agree with both of you. Times are too tough to spend that kind of money on carnival rides when the cost of gas, plus meals, plus rides, plus games in Oberlin cost just a FRACTION of what you spend at the Red Willow County Fair.

    If it weren't for a VERY generous Aunt and Uncle this year, we would have just waited for the Decatur County Fair. We never let our kids play the games at the Red Willow County Fair because the rides are so expensive we have nothing to spare. If we can't afford to play games at the fair, I wonder what those with a lower income than ours do. They probably just don't go to the fair!

    Remember when the first night of the fair was one ticket per ride and the lines were so long they seemed endless? There was no waiting in line the other night and just a couple kids on each kiddie ride at a time.

    It's sad. Next year we're heading back to Oberlin.

    -- Posted by MakingApoint on Fri, Jul 30, 2010, at 4:01 PM
  • I don't care who wants to defend the carnival, it is a joke. This is a real rip off of the public. I thought McCook, or the county, whoever does the searching for carnivals, would take into consideration of the last few years that people have grumbled about the carnival. Hmm?? Our tax dollars well spent again. Why not find a better one or just quit spending the money and save it. Put it into the events at the fair or something constructive.

    We also agree with others on this. Oberlin's fair attracts more from people from McCook. They have better entertainment, other than the rodeo, and it doesn't break the bank to go there. Lots of better attitudes from the workers and public alike. Maybe that is the reason we go to Oberlin instead of McCook for rides and such. McCook still has other public events like 4H, open class, etc., and that is good. It used to be like a well oiled clock. Things worked and went off without problems. Now, it is who can make the most money from the public. It is sad to see the family theme slowly going by the way side.....

    -- Posted by edbru on Mon, Aug 2, 2010, at 7:12 AM
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