WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR Bob Williams, publisher email@example.com
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Tradition ‘The Only Thing Missing Is You!’
Come on now, be honest! How long has it been since you’ve been to the Williamson County Fair? Has it been five years, 10 years, how many more? You were here as a kid, your parents were here when they were kids. Heck, even your grandparents and great-grandparents were probably at the fair at some time. Do you remember their stories of how the families would drive their buggies and wagons from miles around on a Sunday afternoon to come to the fair to see old friends and enjoy a picnic lunch out under the trees in the infield? Memories have a way of fading into the background, yet they are special when they are brought up in conversation. Remember when you could see the ferris wheel at the fairgrounds when you looked down East Main Street from the Square? Do you remember the delicious sweet white taffy, hand pulled from a vendor’s wagon? Can you see the huge draft horses pull a sled loaded down with weight that was twice their own weight, and they strained in the harness as they were encouraged by their owners to pull a little harder, go a little farther, try to win that blue ribbon? It was great. Now it’s a memory seen only on a faded fair book page from the attic. There are 104 county fairs in the 102 counties of Illinois. Many of them will be fading into the background as the expense of maintaining fairgrounds to produce a one-week-a-year fair outweighs the benefits of producing the same. The state of Illinois can’t maintain its support of county fairs while educational and health programs deserve funding, as well. We know that. So how can we keep this tradition going into a century of technology that has created a stay-at-home, look-at-the-TV, computer-screen society? It is not easy, but a group of volunteers has tried to keep the Williamson County Fair going so it can maintain its status of being the “Oldest Continuous Running Fair” in the state. Has it always been run right? Have the grounds been kept up like it should? Probably not! But the last 10 years or so, there has been a group of fair board members who have tried to find ways to make this fair better, to try and bring it back to the glory days. We are realists; we know the those glory days of the small county fairs are about over. But we strive to keep them going. We have planned a fair for Aug. 7-14, 2010. We hope it will bring many back to the old fairgrounds. Come give us a try. Come and see that we are trying to keep it alive and well! The fair board is but one small part of this. We need your support to survive. We say: “The Only Thing Missing is You!” — The Williamson County Fair Board
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WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR
Donnie Allen Hometown: Marion Number of years on the board: Three Reasons you volunteer: To preserve the fair and its grounds. Things that you have seen improve since you have been on the board: Improvement of grounds and buildings. What do you see for the future of the fair? A continuing tradition. Do you have recollections of the fair from your childhood? The large trees in the infield and subways under the race track; watching races from top of Grandstand. Comments: I want the fair to be the attraction it was for its first 100 years.
Hometown: Marion Number of years on the board: Three Reasons you volunteer: For the love of the county fair. I grew up around the fair and want to see it be successful. Things that you have seen improve since you have been on the board: More shows, attendance is up; new Entertainment Barn. excitement of the fairgoers. Jarad Chancy What do you see for the future of the fair? Things that you have seen improve since Hometown: Johnston City Success, expansion, self-sufficient. you have been on the board: Larger Number of years on the (Government doesn’t have money for crowds, artists from Nashville board: Four fairs.) performing in front of the Grandstand. Reasons you volunteer: Do you have recollections of the fair from What do you see for the future of the fair? Enjoy the challenge. your childhood? Yes, I was raised at the Continue to grow; larger crowds. Things that you have seen county fair. It was the social event of the Do you have recollections of the fair from improve since you have been on the board: year. Also, cattle show and tractor pulls. Janelle Baltzell your childhood? My parents would always Come out and see for yourself. Hometown: Pittsburg What do you see for the future of the fair? take me to the county fair; enjoyed the Gary Pearson Number of years on the tractor pulls. A lot. board: First year Hometown: Comments: This is a great satisfaction Do you have recollections of the fair from Reasons you volunteer: I Cambria/Marion to be a part of planning what many your childhood? Muddy demos. was raised on a farm in Number of years on the people come to enjoy. Williamson County, I went board: Two Steve Eli to school here, and my Reasons you volunteer: I Rick Herring Hometown: Johnston City husband and I own a business here. I am want to give back and be Hometown: Marion Number of years on the excited and proud to be part of the part of improving our Number of years on the board: Ten tradition of the fair. county fair for future generations. board: Six Reasons you volunteer: I What do you see for the future of the Things that you have seen improve since Reasons you volunteer: I would hate to see the fair fair? I hope to see the fair thrive in an you have been on the board: The new roof want to be part of end and the grounds environment that right now is not on the Grandstand was just completed. representing the fair to the become an industrial park optimistic. I would love to see new The addition of bull riding and the truck public; always looking for or residential area. There are too many infrastructure on the grounds. mud racing were big last year. new ways to improve the fair year after Do you have recollections of the fair from memories going by the wayside in What do you see for the future of the fair? Southern Illinois. I don’t want this fair to year; seeing a child’s smiling face at the your childhood? I showed hogs here as a Just keep improving with good fair is enough to volunteer. kid, participated in photography contests become one of those! entertainment, food and carnival for all Things that you have seen improved since What do you see for the future of the fair? and baking contest while I was in 4H. My to enjoy. you have been on the board: New With the type of entertainment we’ve family would come to the fair every year Do you have recollections of the fair from Grandstand roof, sewer, water and been trying to obtain for the fair, we are and we never left without a box of taffy! your childhood? The bright lights from electric upgrade, arch at our front trying to show how we are striving to Comments: Come out to the fair, bring the carnival and watching the demo entrance, flower garden, a nice lighted improve the fair. your family! Make some memories! derby. Do you have recollections of the fair from billboard, which stands out on the front on main street. Our attendance improves your childhood? My first recollection of Jerry Barrass Thomas Throgmorton every year, which means we must be the fair was attending the fair horse Hometown: Johnston City shows with my grandfather, Ben Hometown: Marion doing something right. Number of years on the Number of years on the What do you see for the future of the Lawrence of Johnston City. board: Eleven board: Twenty-five fair? Williamson County Fair has been Comments: County fairs are going to Reasons you volunteer: To become a thing of the past, and Reasons you volunteer: here more then 150 years, and it will be give back to the agricultural throughout the state there are countless Horse racing and to assist here many years to come. community. other members. Do you have recollections of the fair from volunteers who are keeping these fairs Things that you have seen Things that you have seen you childhood? I remember an old Indian going. If that spirit of volunteerism improve since you have been on the board: wanes, the fairs will be gone. improve since you have been on the board: couple, they would always set up at a Grounds and live enterainment. Grandstand and fair board cooperation. booth at the east end of the Grandstand What do you see for the future of the fair? What do you see for the future of the fair? selling bracelets and necklaces and many John Fosse Bigger and better things. Hopeful; depends on state funding. more items. I worked at the fair when I Hometown: Marion Do you have recollections of the fair from Do you have recollections of the fair from was 14-years-old, sweeping the Number of years on the your childhood? My family visited the fair your childhood? Horse and buggy in Grandstand during the fair daily. board: Nine every year. center field; nickel ice cream cones. Additional comments: This fair would Reasons you volunteer: To not be what it is now without the help of Comments: Come out and see the fair give back to the for yourself. the volunteers on the fair board and the community. I have a farm help of our community. background. Seeing the
Board members: Fair success is their main goal
Page 4 Thursday, July 29, 2010 The Southern Illinoisan
The Fair WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR
Rising country stars, pageants, racing, competition and good, old-fashioned fun
Keina Draper waves to the crowd as she is introduced as fair queen in 2006.
David Rady of Marion slides through the windshield area of his ride before a demolition derby trial run in 2006.
THE SOUTHERN FILE PHOTOS
There’s no shortage of fair food, including an all-time favorite: Malone’s Taffy.
Williamson County Fair patrons watch the merry-go-round twirl.
Clay Simpson drives Ma Royal during a one-mile pace at the 2009 Williamson County Fair.
A competitor readies livestock at the 2007 fair.
Dylan Marie Gass, 2, of Herrin won most photogenic and was crowned the winner in the 2-year-old division in the 2007 Little Mr. and Miss Williamson County Fair Pageant. With her is her her mother, Zohnett Wagley.
Many enjoy the challenge of numerous carnival games.
BY SCOTT FITZGERALD THE SOUTHERN
Last year, stormy weather conditions necessitated the use of the downtown Marion Civic Center for the setting of the Williamson County fair pageants. It was such a hit that fair organizers decided to keep the pageants there. “It’s a little bit more comfortable in the civic center, and we’ve decided to go ahead and stay with that locale,” said Steve Eli, Williamson County Fair Board secretary/treasurer and past president. The Miss Williamson County Fair Scholarship and Princess Pageant will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6. The Little Miss and Mr. Williamson County Fair Pageant will begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8. One of the burgeoning highlights for recent fairs — and this year is no exception — is the Grandstand entertainers with whom the fair board has been able to negotiate contracts, Eli said. This year, rising county music star Josh Thompson, who gained fame with his debut single, “Beer on the Table,” will perform beginning at the grandstand at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, with an opening act featuring Lathan Moore of Harrisburg. Tickets are $15 for track-side seating and $10 for box seating. Preston Brust and Chris Lucas, who form the exciting county music duo group LoCash Cowboys, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, in the Entertainment Barn. Audience members must be over 21. Tickets are $10. “We’re trying to catch these mainstream performers on their way up in the country music world,” Eli said about the effort going into booking such name acts. This year’s carnival will start Monday, Aug. 9 and be up through Saturday, Aug. 14. The carnival opens at 5 p.m. and will be open until 10:30 Monday through Thursday and later on the weekends, Eli said. One event gaining more popularity each year on weeknights is the tractor pull, which starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11. Tickets are $10 general admission, $12 for box seats and pit passes at $15. In conjunction with the tractor pull will be the stock truck pull with diesel and gas truck divisions. Livestock showings always make a county fair. Beef cattle judging begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10; dairy cattle judging begins Friday morning. Eli doesn’t want fairgoers to lose sight of what the fair is essentially about. “The Illinois Department of Agriculture has emphasized that county fairs throughout the state have to be agriculture related. We have always done that,” he said about the Williamson County Agricultural Association presenting this year’s 154th county fair. Parking fees of $2 will go to Marion High School Band Boosters Club. Admission is free. email@example.com / 618-351-5076
The Southern Illinoisan Thursday, July 29, 2010 Page 5
WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR
Karsen Burgrabe, Herrin Parent: Penny Burgrabe
Meili Couch, Carterville Parents: Tom and Cheryl Couch
Alexandria Grace Estes, 4 Parents: Robert and Vanessa Estes, Herrin Abbi Aliese Mayfield, 8 Parents: Mike and Amber Mayfield, Marion
Lauren Jenkins, Goreville Parents: Randy and Diana Jenkins
Jayci Jeremiah, Du Quoin Parent: Janice Jeremiah
Olivia Clare Lind, Carterville Parents: Bart and Amy Lind
Chelsea Reardon, Murphysboro Parents: Larry and Becky Reardon
June Allyson Steely, West Frankfort Parents: Catherine and the late James Steely
Caileya Newton, 7 Parents: Steve and Tracy Newton, Murphysboro
Audreyana Phillips, 5 Parents: Chad and Heather Phillips,Pittsburg
Victoria Sylvania Shore, 7 Tara Kay Tanner, 6 Parents: Tyson and Parents: Jeff and Rana Kay Tanner, Elizabeth Shore, Marion Marion
Zoe Williams, 7 Parents: Danny and Amy Williams, Marion
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WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR
Josh Thompson at the Grandstand BY SCOTT FITZGERALD THE SOUTHERN
Josh Thompson, this year’s Grandstand entertainer at the Williamson County Fair, is known, during his short time of breaking into the light of stardom, as a guy who understands hardworking men because he’s one himself. Thompson began pouring concrete with his father at the age of 12 in Cedarburg, Wis. After arriving in Nashville in 2005, Thompson began writing songs and quickly establishing himself as a country artist on the rise. He received his first major songwriter credit with “Growing Up Is Getting Old,” which is the title track of Jason Michael Carroll’s current album. Thompson formed a band and performed live shows throughout the country. He soon landed a major record deal with Columbia Nashville with his bluecollar lifestyle reflected in songs he has written including “Beer on the Table.” His Columbia Nashville debut, “Way Out Here,” features 10 songs he has written solo and includes songs produced by Michael Knox. firstname.lastname@example.org 618-351-5076
LoCash Cowboys take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7 in the Entertainment Barn. Tickets are $10, and you must be 21.
LoCash Cowboys BY SCOTT FITZGERALD THE SOUTHERN
Josh Thompson will perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9 at the Grandstand. The opening act will be Lathan Moore of Harrisburg. Tickets are $15 and $10.
LoCash Cowboys are the main entertainment act at this year’s Williamson County Fair. The group can claim an impressive string of accomplishments. They have sold more than 600,000 copies of their homemade CD, “This Is How We Do It,” earned endorsements from giants like Budweiser, shared bills with artists including Charlie Daniels and ZZ Top, performed at halftime of NBA and Olympic team basketball games and earned television appearances ranging from Tanya Tucker’s reality show, “Tuckerville,” to “Pageant School: Becoming Miss America,” writing the theme songs for both. Preston Brust and Chris Lucas got their break when noted songwriter/producer Jeffrey Steele approached the duo in April 2008 and offered to sign on as songwriter partner and producer. Brust and Lucas have gone on to produce and add 40 more songs to their repertoire. The two met at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tenn. They traveled many miles, earning opening slots for name acts, getting press notices and television appearances. Lucas grew up in Baltimore, Md., and developed an ear for a variety of music from Frank Sinatra to Justin Timperlake, with emphasis on 1990s rhythm and blues and country music. Brust was born in Arkansas and grew up in Kokomo, Ind., where he choreographed show choirs. email@example.com / 618-351-5076
The Southern Illinoisan Thursday, July 29, 2010 Page 7
WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR BY SCOTT FITZGERALD THE SOUTHERN
These photos, provided by the Williamson County Historical Society, show the fair in years gone by. They are (clockwise from left) part of a circus set up in the infield in 1900, an aerial view of the racetrack, a woman in the doorway of a cabin in 1939 and the county centennial celebration in 1939.
Page 8 Thursday, July 29, 2010 The Southern Illinoisan
The Williamson County Fair has an illustrious history dating to 1856, when a group of county residents joined to form the event to showcase the intermingling of farm, field, garden and home. With a donation of 10 acres east of downtown Marion, the fair became a reality in 1857. The annual fair got quite a boost in 1910 when Theodore Roosevelt visited Marion during his presidential campaign and entertained 10,000 people in the fairâ€™s infield. Roosevelt told those in attendance that the Williamson County Fairgrounds surpassed any such fair grounds in his home state of New York. Other luminaries who have visited the fair include Gen. John A. Logan, Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, LeRoy A. Goddard, William Jennings Bryan, Sen. Alben Barkley and Secretary of War Harry Woodring. In 1915, the St. Louis Republic Newspaper covered the fair for a special feature edition. More than 40,000 people attended the event. While most county fairs have long since closed, and their fairgrounds are housing developments or shopping centers, the Williamson County Fair continues. firstname.lastname@example.org 618-351-5076
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The Southern Illinoisan Thursday, July 29, 2010 Page 9
WILLIAMSON COUNTY FAIR
Friday, Aug. 6
7: 30 p.m., Miss Williamson County Fair Scholarship and Princess Pageant, Marion Civic Center
Saturday, Aug. 7
9 a.m., 5K Run 9 a.m.-2 p.m., car show 2 p.m., harness racing 5 p.m., truck mud racing 8 p.m., LoCash Cowboys, Entertainment Barn; $10; must be 21 to enter
2 p.m., harness racing 6 p.m., gaited and pleasure horse show
Monday, Aug. 9 10 a.m.-3 p.m., entry day for crafts, etc. 7:30 p.m., Josh Thompson, grandstand, with opening act Lathan Moore of Harrisburg; $15/$10
Tuesday, Aug. 10
Thursday, Aug. 12
7:30 p.m., Gospel Night with The Lesters and The Nehrkorns
Friday, Aug. 13 TBA, Beauties and The Beasts barrel racing and bull riding
Saturday, Aug. 14 6 p.m., speed horse show 7:30 p.m., demolition derby
7:30 p.m., demolition derby
Sunday, Aug. 15
Page 10 Thursday, July 29, 2010 The Southern Illinoisan
Sunday, Aug. 8
Wednesday, Aug. 11
1:30 p.m., Little Miss and Mr. Williamson County Fair Pageant, Civic Center
7 p.m., truck and tractor pull
TBA, Williamson County Saddle Club All Speed Horse Show
The Southern Illinoisan Thursday, July 29, 2010 Page 11
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