The 2007 Buena Vista Fair ended Sunday, and on Monday, volunteers worked to restore the grounds to the conditions before the crowds of animals, herds of animals and packs of race cars had come in.
No one knew for sure what to expect of this year's event. With the budget hurting and nearly the entire fair board coming on new, the main commodity was cautios optimism. Minus a carnival, the board wanted to find a way to please people with the activities they could provide.
They pulled it off.
Fair board President Randy Robbins estimates there were some 5,000 people who walked through the fairgrounds over the five-day run of this year's fair.
The stock car races, Enduro races and demolition derby pulled large crowds into the grandstands. The free supper served 700, and horse lovers stampeded to the Fitzpatrick's Classic Open Horse Show.
A new addition - the paintball arena brought by Dave Miller - was popular among teens and the younger kids enjoyed Sky High inflatables the last day.
The old fashioned kids' games organized for Saturday helped the younger visitors forget about the midway that the fair couldn't afford for 2007.
The 4-H program has long been the heart of the fair, and this year, numbers were especially strong.
Rhonda Christensen, BV County Extension Education Director, said she is quite pleased with the level of participation as well as the crowds that gathered to support the 4-H'ers in their hard work and dedication.
Livestock entry numbers in cattle, hogs, swine, goats, sheep, rabbits and horses were all up this year. The only area seeing a decrease was poultry, she said.
It is always difficult to plan the length of each show when scheduling; most of the shows ran over the anticipated time due to the larger number of entries as well as the high level of detail used in judging.
"The judges took time to visit individually with the kids as they went through the ring," she said, and that is worth a lot to the kids.
"We try to make it as educational as possible. It is competitive but it's a learning experience, too."
The 4-H'ers come together from different clubs, different communities, each hoping for the blue ribbons, or better yet, the title of champion. Once they walk out of the showring, they can be seen congratulating their opponents with great sincerity.
"They are building lifetime friendships," Christensen says.
"There are so many opportunities for the kids involved in 4-H but the fair is one of their favorite times."
The numbers of static projects are slightly down, Christensen said, but there was no problem selecting the 28 maximum number (based on enrollment figures) that can be sent to the State Fair.
The diversity of the interests, she said, are also amazing. For instance, first-year 4-H'er Brynna Baumhover baked an apple pie, sewed a fashionable skirt and showed pigs in the special swine projects - doing well in each area. And Chris Sievers, who earned the coveted overall (livestock) showmanship traveling trophy this year, also made bread that was State Fair quality.
The 4-H organization is strong in Buena Vista County - thanks in large part to the parents.
Many of the parents also had "good experiences" as 4-H'ers in their youth and are helping to pass on the tradition through their kids.
"I'm really pleased how everyone chipped in to get ready," Christensen said of the volunteers, 4-H'ers and fair board members. "Everyone had a good attitude and things went real well."
First time fair board president Randy Robbins is also pleased.
"We heard many positive things and the board really kicked in. We all worked together, talked about things and helped each other out," he added, speaking of the board and members of the extension office. "It was a team effort."
Robbins also complimented Doug and Andrew Allerdings for taking n the vacant food stand and providing "fantastic food" through the duration of the fair.
"It was a lot of work but it was all worth it. I look at the kids...during the parade of champions (which brought together all the 4-H'ers) I saw a lot of smiles on those kids."
The extension personnel and board members will take off a couple weeks to recuperate and will then come together next month to discuss the positives and what needs to be improved upon, Robbins said, "while it's all still fresh in our minds."
From there, events and shows will be looked at and planning for the 2008 fair will soon begin. Fair board officer elections will take place in November so there could be another batch of new faces on board for next year's fair.
With one year's experience under their built, it could be wise to allow the officers to serve another year. Robbins has had conversations with several 4-H'ers and it is hoped they will share some input as to what they would like to see at the fair.
"I've told them this is their fair so hopefully some of them will get involved," Robbins said.