The Washington Fair stage is complete, the midway is set up and everything is on track for the Washington Town and Country Fair, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, Aug. 1-5, at the Fairgrounds.
This year’s theme is “Making Memories.”
Chairman Dale Westhoff said he’s excited to show off the new stage. The new concert stage and event center is located just north of Lions Lake along Veterans Drive.
The facility is a partnership between the city and Chamber of Commerce, which operates the Fair. Many businesses, civic groups and service organizations have made donations as well.
“It really looks great. We can’t wait to have people on it. Our entertainers are going to love it,” he said, adding that he’s confident that even if there are bad storms, the stage will not collapse as Fair stages in other states have in the past.
Every year, the issue of heat arises, but Westhoff said that the weather was good for the two pre-Fair events, the run/walk Saturday and the parade Sunday, and that he hopes the weather will hold out through the Fair.
For the first time this year, to help keep the grounds in good shape, because of the drought, the Fair Board watered the grounds prior to the beginning of the Fair.
Westhoff said the board usually waters the grounds to help keep dust down, but this is the first year it has been done before the start of the Fair.
“We’ve been trying to water the grounds and they’re starting to green up. The little bit of rain (Sunday morning) helped a lot,” he said. “We will go in and water the midway and high-traffic areas to help keep the dust down. We will try to keep it as nice as possible and I think it will be fine this year.”
If fairgoers need respite from the heat, Westhoff reminded people that the home economics building has air conditioning. Additionally, misting fans will be located near the food courts and throughout the grounds. The Washington Fire Department will have a watering station by the livestock area where children can get wet and play.
“The forecast has been changing a lot, almost every day that you look at it,” Westhoff said. “I’m confident we’re going to have some great weather and some good crowds this year.”
Westhoff said there is a lot of new food in the food court this year and that there is at least one new ride people can look forward to, “Nemesis.”
“I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised with the rides this year,” he said. “We’re going to have a great carnival.”
Westhoff reminded people that the Fair will try to break a world record, though the record has changed.
Rather than trying to have the most water rockets launched simultaneously, the Fair will try to set the record for the most water rockets launched individually in a 24-hour period, said Jennifer Giesike, Fair coordinator.
The time period will begin Friday, Aug. 3, at 11 a.m. and run through Saturday, Aug. 4, at 11 a.m. at the Motor Sports Arena.
The goal is to get 3,000 people to participate in 24 hours. The previous record is 2,575.
Directions on how to build your own water rocket for the event can be found online at washmoFair.com. Launchers will be available on site.
Season passes can be purchased at numerous retail outlets, online or at the gate.
The Washington Fair queen will be crowned opening night and top ticket sellers will be recognized. The contest will begin at 8:30 p.m. on the Main Stage.
This year’s Fair will include motor sports events, carnival rides, Agri-Land, livestock shows, the Purina Pro Plan Performance Team, contests and other activities.
Main stage entertainment features Jake Owen, Gretchen Wilson, REO Speedwagon and Jerrod Niemann.
REO Speedwagon last played at the Washington Fair in 1997 to big crowds.
Country singer Jerrod Niemann will perform on Sunday, the final night, with Chris Cavanaugh as his opening act.
A new event this year will be a benefit for the Green Beret Casualty Fund, which provides financial assistance to the families of wounded and killed Green Berets and members of the Armed Forces.
The Green Beret A Team from the 5th Special Forces Group will be at the Fair all day Friday and Saturday with a special display of weapons, vehicles and equipment. This display will be located on the west side of the Main Stage. A variety of military-related vendors also will be present.
Prior to the Gretchen Wilson concert, the Green Beret Casualty Fund will have a special tribute on the Main Stage at 6:30 p.m. Former Cardinals football player Jerry Holloway will lead with the national anthem. Music, dedications, a history of the Green Beret with demonstrations and presentations will follow.
Additionally, a pig will be auctioned during the livestock auction with proceeds to benefit the fund. The pig was donated by the Deppe family.
Also new this year will be a People’s Choice Brewfest Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. People can pay $5 to enter the tasting tent and help select the winner. The cost will be $5 for one collector’s glass and one voting sheet.
Participating breweries include Schlafly, Augusta Brewing Co., Tall Grass Brewing Co. and Weston Brewing Co.
The winner will get to have a tap of its beer in the Rotary and Lions Club tents next year.
Westhoff said the motor sports lineup is the same as last year with bull riding Wednesday night, a rodeo Thursday evening, the always popular tractor pull Friday beginning at 3 p.m. followed by the truck and mini-rod pull Friday night.
On Saturday, the micro sprint cars will return and there will be stadium motocross racing Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.
Livestock judging will take place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the auction beginning at noon Saturday.
A wide variety of children’s contests will be held all five days of the Fair and several special events are planned in the Family Fun Center, such as appearances by the World Bird Sanctuary, dance demonstrations, martial arts and new this year, a zip line.
Hands-on activities also are planned at Agri-Land and Safety Lands.
Westhoff said some of the contests are being held on different days and times this year so fairgoers should check the schedule carefully for their favorite activities.
“I hope everyone comes out to make some memories,” he said.