Benton County Fair, With New Look, Begins Tuesday

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BENTONVILLE – The Benton County Fair will be different this year.

There’s a new date and a new operator halfway through, and crowds will be allowed to enter the fairgrounds after being kept out in 2020 due to covid-19 restrictions.

The 117th annual fair takes place Tuesday through Saturday.

“People said if we had to change things this would be the year to do it,” said Fair Board Chair Ashley Hays. “We’re in the full bore, and we’re hoping to get everyone in the county to see it.”

The fair had been held every September until 2010, when it was postponed until August. This year is the return to a start date in September. Officials said they would try to keep it going in September.

Carnival provider Miller Spectacular Shows is based in Greenbrier, said Susan Koehler, manager of the fair and events. The Miller Midway has operated in more than 18 states and the Bahamas, according to its website.

Miller Spectacular Shows will feature carnival, games and rides for kids to thrill seekers, Koehler said.

The fair attracted around 27,000 visitors in 2019, the last year it was fully open.

The beautiful season is in full swing throughout the region. The Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair in Fort Smith began Friday and continues through Saturday. The Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock begins October 15.

The Washington County Fair was held August 24-28 in Fayetteville, and fair’s board chairman Kendall Pendergraft said the event went well. The number of shows increased from last year, but not to 2019 levels. The junior cattle auction hit a record high of over $ 250,000 with the total not finalized, a- he declared.

People have been urged to wear masks in inland areas and most obligated, he said.

“We were delighted to have been able to have a successful fair,” he said. “It looked like a fair. Last year didn’t look like a fair, but this year was closer to normal.”

Now it’s the turn of Benton County.

The showroom will host more than 335 exhibitors from the fields of youth / 4-H, adult home arts, photography and fine arts, among other categories.

Horticulture and flower exhibitors have until today to register their entries online, said Janice Shofner, Benton County extension officer for 4-H Youth Development.

The youth division has over 1,300 entries, double the amount from last year and roughly the same as 2019, Shofner said.

There are 122 participants in the junior cattle auction and 172 cattle exhibitors, said Jackie Griffin, manager of the ShoWorks show.

New events include a homestead exhibit in the auditorium, an ATV stunt, an archery competition, and increased cash prizes for horticultural entries, including the biggest pumpkin, a Koehler said.

Handwashing stations will be set up at the fair grounds with precautionary signs against covid-19, Hays said. Most of the activities will take place outdoors or in large buildings.

A tent will be set up outside the exhibit on the homestead that will feature speakers and offer the outdoors, Koehler said.

“The world has gotten used to this new bubble or this new system,” Hays said of covid-19 precautions. Most of the exhibitors are school-aged children who have become accustomed to dealing with the guarantees of Covid-19, he said.

Covid-19 forced several changes at the fair last year. Participation was limited to exhibitors and immediate family. Face coverings were mandatory. There was no food, no music, no carnival. Cattle were registered and released daily. The Junior Livestock Premium auction was broadcast online.

This year’s auction will be held in person with a virtual option, Hays said.

Another aspect missing last year was the people who usually come to the fair, Hays said. The exhibitors were recognized in 2020, but it was not the same as getting this notoriety from people outside the fair community, he said.

“The kids brag about the animals and all the prep time and work it took,” he said.

Koehler previously said the Fair Board is confident that contestants will have time to bring their exhibits to the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock on time.

Katie Rieff gets jams, jellies and other treats registered on Saturday, September 25, 2021 for being judged in the food preservation category. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / Flip Putthoff)

Cinda (CQ) Wooldridge (left) of Pea Ridge walks into her handmade quilts on Saturday, September 25, 2021 for being judged at the Benton County Fair.  Debe (cq) Greene (center) and Janice Shofner check the entries.  (NWA Demorcrat / Gazette / Flip Putthoff)

Cinda (CQ) Wooldridge (left) of Pea Ridge walks into her handmade quilts on Saturday, September 25, 2021 for being judged at the Benton County Fair. Debe (cq) Greene (center) and Janice Shofner check the entries. (NWA Demorcrat / Gazette / Flip Putthoff)

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Benton County Fair

When: from Tuesday to Saturday

Or: Benton County Fairgrounds, 7640 SW Regional Airport Blvd., Bentonville

Cost: Entrance is free outside of carnival hours. The cost will be $ 10 per person from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and $ 15 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday.

More information: Visit www.bentoncountyfairar.org

Source: Susan Koehler, show manager


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