Commissioners OK date move for county fair

Nathan Thompson |
Macy Strom with the Osage County Free Fair Board gives a report on this year's fair during an Osage County Commissioners meeting Monday. Nathan Thompson/Journal-Capital

Changes are on the way for the 2018 edition of the Osage County Free Fair, after this year’s event had lower than expected attendance, Macy Strom with the Free Fair Board said Monday.

Strom gave a report on the fair Monday during an Osage County Commissioners meeting at the courthouse.

“Although we are calling the fair a success, we were a little disappointed in the turnout,” Strom said. “The move of all of the still exhibits to the Ag building was a success, according to vendors, exhibitors and fair-goers. There was more interaction between vendors and exhibitors and more entertainment. We did have more vendors and school involvement.”

To boost attendance, the commissioners voted to move the fair to the second week of September next year, with the dates set for Sept. 12-15.

Strom said multiple events over the fair’s 2017 weekend may have contributed to the lower attendance this year. This year’s Osage County Free Fair was held Sept. 7 through 9.

“This move would get us out of direct competition with the short work week (Labor Day), the Washington County Fair, the 100-mile yard sale, the First Tuesday Auction and the Rock Fire Department’s auction,” Strom said. “Many on the board feel that coinciding with the Washington County Fair hurts our attendance. There are numerous residents living near the county line that take part in the events at that fair through work, FFA, schools or civic involvement.”

This year, the school day at the Osage County Free Fair was held on Friday. Osage County District 1 Commissioner Jerry Howerton brought up the fact that many schools in the county are on four-day school weeks, and might be preventing some students from going to the school day event at the fair.

Strom said the Fair Board is looking at moving the school day to Thursday instead of Friday, and make other enhancements to attract a young crowd.

“We plan to move school day to Thursday,” she said. “We also plan to get a children’s barnyard, an outside watering and cooling station, and more hands-on fun and educational activities for that day and the weekend. Already in the planning process are a quilt show in the Women’s Building, on Friday and Saturday; a car show on Saturday.”

Strom said the Osage County Free Fair board plans to meet again on Oct. 23.