Washington fairgoers are a mixed lot of people — from the youngsters to the adults. There usually is something special that fairgoers look for at the Fair and it varies as much as do the personalities of those attending.
The entertainment — the music — is of special interest to so many fairgoers, and, of course, for children it’s the carnival rides that draw them to that area of the midway. Also, for children, it’s the independence that is given to them by their parents to roam the fairgrounds with their friends that is a highlight for them. The fairgrounds is a safe place for children. Some of them are there most of the day, or for several days. There are many contests for children.
Bull riding has its fans, along with all of the tractor and truck pulls. Motorcross racing on Sunday is a draw, Agriland is a popular venue, and the queen’s contest opening night is a “do not miss” event for many fairgoers. There’s always interest in the horticulture/floriculture and home economics/fine arts shows and competition. There’s something of interest for every person’s taste. Space does not permit listing all the events.
Of course, the livestock judging and competition is at the top of the list for so many people. The young exhibitors look forward to the Blue Ribbon auction Saturday, that starts at noon. The support given to the auction is amazing. Every year many of the same bidders, along with new ones, show up and give solid support by buying livestock. It is a profitable day for the young exhibitors.
The 2016 Fair grossed around $1.4 million. About 80 percent of the gross receipts goes to pay expenses.
The livestock auction last year produced $457,124 for the exhibitors. The record was set in 2015 when the total was $457,897.
The hog auction in 2016 set a record when bidders paid $246,488 for 168 Blue Ribbon entries.
The Fair has hundreds of sponsors and boosters. The support given to the Fair catches the eyes of other fair officials around the state. The Washington Fair is the third largest in the state. Only the State Fair at Sedalia and the Springfield fair are larger.
The modern-day Washington Fair began in the early 1950s. Growth was rather slow in the beginning. But once the Fair Board started to have major entertainment performers, growth came rapidly. The land for the fairgrounds was acquired in the late 1940s and early 1950s. That provided space for growth.
Old-timers remember the Washington Farm Products Show or Fair, which was held in the old city park, with exhibits in the city auditorium. During World War II, the Farm Products Show was discontinued for the duration, like so many other events.
Enough rambling! See you at the Fair!