While cleaning up from a busy weekend, Zach Mentz called the 2019 Franklin County Fair a success.
Mentz, the 2019 chairman of the Fair Board, said attendance was down slightly from the 2018 event, but organizers still are pleased with how the four-day Fair went.
“I think we had a good Fair,” Mentz said.
The main reason Mentz was so happy with this year’s Fair was the weather — not what happened, but what didn’t happen. Days before the Fair began last Thursday the forecasts were dire. Meteorologists were predicting a rainy weekend.
On Tuesday night a storm ripped through Union and damaged the fairgrounds. The entertainment tent was knocked down. Mentz said organizers were worried about what Mother Nature might do.
It turned out to be much ado about nothing. Mentz said the rain held off for the most part and the potential storm threats instead brought much cooler temperatures.
While the 2018 Fair featured temperatures soaring into the upper 90s, the 2019 Fair never got nearly that high. In all, the weather went from being a source of concern to an advantage.
“That was huge for us,” Mentz said.
Crews were able to repair the damage from the early week storm in time for the Fair. Mentz said the tent was being set up just hours before the gates opened Thursday night.
Once the Fair started, Mentz said organizers were pleased with how the Fair operated.
In recent years, the Fair Board has backed away from big name entertainment to focus on motor sports. The Friday night showcase was the fifth annual demolition derby.
Mentz said the derby was a hit both with the crowd and participants. He said a large number of cars signed up for the derby and the seats were filled.
“The demolition derby was huge this year,” he said.
The Saturday night tractor pull was a bit disappointing, Mentz said. Attendance was a “little low” he said, but the crowd that was there still enjoyed the event.
Mentz said the Fair Board intends to stick with the programming for future Fairs. The goal is, somewhere along the line, to “build” up and bring back more entertainment, but for now the schedule works for the Board.
“The community responds a little better to the motor sports,” he said.
Mentz also said the Fair Board likes having the event in June after a long run of July dates. The June dates started in 2018 because of a scheduling issue with the tractor pull sleds.
Organizers had hoped the June dates would bring milder temperature and better weather, which was the case this year.
An added benefit is the 4-H and FFA livestock shows. Mentz said the June Fair is becoming popular as a test run for animal exhibitors.
He said when the Fair was held in July, it was almost like a dress rehearsal for some of the bigger Fairs. Now it’s more of a learning experience.
“It gives them a chance to iron out the kinks before the other shows,” he said.
This year he said the shows were some of the biggest the Fair has had and he hopes it keeps growing.
Fair Board members spent Monday cleaning up the site. The goal was to have everything back to normal by the end of the week.
Once that’s done, work will begin on planning the 2020 event.
“As the Fair goes on, we always are making notes,” Mentz said. “We try and see if there’s something we can do better or see if there is something new we can bring in.”
Mentz thanked the team of volunteers who helped put on the Fair. He said a number of people were on site from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. working.
“It takes a lot of help,” he said. “Without our volunteers, this would have been tough to do.”