By KAREN JONES CODY
Do you remember the old-fashioned county fair? I do. I remember that kids would work on projects for weeks in preparation for entering them in the fair competition — dreaming of winning a ribbon. Adults had projects too, like beautiful quilts or delicious food. Winning entries were displayed at a central location and everyone enjoyed visiting and seeing the results of hard work and talent. The fair was about other things too, the kind of things that interested me as a child (and still do today) . . . animals, and games, and people getting together in a happy atmosphere.
The fair seemed to highlight all the best parts about living in a rural community — the closeness of friends and neighbors, people working together, enjoying outdoor activities, taking time for creative endeavors. Chris Amburgey, director of the Sportsplex and member of the county Tourism Commission, started thinking not long ago about the county fair. He began to talk to others in the community and people in other counties who are still holding these events. He realized that the Sportsplex would be a wonderful facility to host a wide variety of activities. When Amburgey started to exchange ideas with the staff at the Knott County Extension Office, everything fell into place, and serious planning began for a one-day county fair.
A group met this Tuesday at the Extension Office to share ideas and work out details. A date has been set — Saturday, July 2, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission price for the day was kept as low as possible: $3.00 per person OR $10.00 per car. Ages five and under will be admitted free.
Amburgey sketched out an initial proposal of activities for all ages (these are not yet set in stone, but the group would like to see all these and more). Among the plans are a barbecue contest, apple pie contest, races (for both runners and bicyclists), a “Cruise-In” for car enthusiasts, a flea market/trade day, a volleyball tournament, inflatables, a hay ride, a greased pig contest, an assortment of games for senior citizens and kids, and musical entertainment.
Dean Craft announced that the Extension Board has already confirmed one activity for kids — a petting zoo. Around 20 animals will be available to interact with children, and there will also be pony rides. The traditional county fair competitions would be held and entries displayed, and the County Extension Office is playing a vital role. Dora Webb, 4-H Agent, and program assistant Ashley Reynolds presented a list of categories for students age 18 and under. She explained that “Cloverbuds” (those age nine and younger) can compete at the county level; junior (ages 9 through 14) and senior (ages 15 through 18) divisions may also advance to the state level with their projects. There are opportunties to enter in different categories of arts and crafts, photography, food, forestry, wood science, home environment, consumer education and a cookoff. Webb also provided a schedule of project nights beginning Feb. 8. Students may participate in these just for fun, or may use them as a preparation for entering projects at the fair. (Participation in this program is not required to enter something in fair competition, but those who take part will learn the exact criteria for fair projects.)
Home Economics Agent Linda Combs said there will also be plenty of opportunities for adults to compete; she is currently gathering information on specifics. Chad Conway mentioned the possibility of having young people showing rabbits and poultry, and hopefully a honey contest. Details on all these activities will be shared as soon as they are available.
The Sportsplex will have their concession stand open as usual, but the group also talked about adding three or four vendors to provide “fair food” like barbecue and funnel cakes throughout the day. The more everyone talked about the fair in the Tuesday meeting, the more positive and excited they became. “We want this to be an event for every resident in Knott County,” Dean Craft said. “We want to offer something for everyone, no matter what age, no matter what their interests or capabilities.” The next planning meeting for the fair will be held Tuesday, Feb. 23, 11:30 a.m., at the Extension Office. Extension Staff and Tourism Commission members encourage anyone who is interested in being part of the event to attend this meeting. Organizations who would consider setting up for the day to share information or provide an activity are welcome, and representatives of such organizations — or any individuals who are interested in participating — can contact Chris Amburgey at the Sportsplex if attending the Feb. 23 meeting is not convenient.
Find the Troublesome Creek Times at local stores in Knott and surrounding counties or subscribe to the Times at (606)-785-5134