Fair attendance higher first two days
The 2018 Douglas County Fair wrapped up its four-day run Sunday a little earlier than expected, as heavy rains fell at the fairgrounds shortly after 6 p.m. and didn't let up for several hours.
Brad Brejcha, vice president of the Douglas County Ag Association, said Sunday's rains caused the Midway and vendors to shut down four hours early, which he said could financially impact the fair organization as well as vendors.
"Sunday night was supposed to be the last wristband night for the rides. But because of the rain, that didn't happen," Brejcha said.
Despite Sunday's downpour, which caused flooding in the grandstand, Brejcha said overall it was a decent fair, and that the fair board was satisfied with attendance.
Although the official numbers weren't tallied by press time, attendance was higher on Thursday and Friday and about the same on Saturday compared to last year, Brejcha said. He expects a decrease in Sunday's attendance because of the rain.
Don Kleine, president of the ag association, lives about a mile from the fairgrounds and said he measured close to four inches in his home rain gauge.
"Except for the last part of Sunday, the weather was very cooperative this year," Kleine said. "Everything went well this year and it was another fabulous fair."
Both Kleine and Brejcha commented on the paving project at the fairgrounds, which was a partnership with the fair board and the city of Alexandria. They said many positive comments were heard about the new asphalt and that it was cleaner and easier for people in wheelchairs to get around, along with those who were pushing strollers.
As for this year's entertainment, Brejcha said it was "well accepted," noting that the crowd to stay and watch the band Tripwire on the main stage Saturday night was the "biggest crowd ever."
Fair board members will evaluate what worked and what didn't so that they can start planning for next year's fair, Kleine said. Public comments should be directed to the Douglas County Fair Facebook page or the fair's website at "We" target="_blank">www.dcmnfair.com/. "We
"Wewould love to hear from everyone. We like getting feedback," Brejcha said.
He noted that anyone can join the ag association for $5 per year. The association is open to all residents of Douglas County and by becoming a member, Brejcha said, "It makes you a voting member."
More information can be found on the fair's website.
Nicest fair in state
Several exhibitors deemed the fair a success.
"It was a good fair — a beautiful fair," said Patty Wicken of Alexandria, who operates corn dog and lemonade stands with her husband, Roy Wicken. "It was great. We have no complaints. We are blessed to have a well-organized, well-run fair. It's the nicest county fair in the state."
The Wickens have seen their fair share of fairs over the years. Patty has been working the booths for 34 years while Roy has been working at the fair for 61 years, starting when he was just 12 years old.
"It's been fair this year," said Roy before the rain fell Sunday night. "Nothing to write home about. We have a lot of foot-longs left but the lemonade is selling. We went through 23 cases of lemons."
Several other vendors rated this year's fair, in terms of business, as about average.
"We had some good crowds on Thursday and Friday, but Saturday was a little slower than normal," said Kayla Chock of Little Falls, owner of the Sweet Sisters Concessions.
This was Chock's fourth or fifth year at the fair and she said it's well organized.
"It's a super fair," she said.
Doug Hasz, owner of Doug's Kettle Corn, also called the fair about average compared to the last half-dozen years.
"It was a little warm during the day so sales were pretty slow, but it picked up in the evenings," said Hasz, who is in his 20th year of business.
The only negative aspect mentioned by vendors was the price of bottled water, which some said was a little high at $2.50 a bottle, especially when it was so hot Friday and Saturday. Temperatures both days were in the low- to mid-80s.
News Editor Al Edenloff contributed to this story.