Osage County Free Fair set September 8-10

Mike Erwin | merwin@examiner-enterprise.com

“Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” is the theme chosen for the annual Osage County Free Fair, which is scheduled to be held Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 8-10, at the Osage County Fairgrounds.

Just about anything you want to bring in the way of sewing projects, canning, artwork, antiques, baking, etc., can be entered in the fair, according to county officials, who said participation in the local fair has been building back up in recent years.

All still exhibits are to be entered from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and judging of those exhibits will begin at 7 p.m. The first Osage County Free Fair was held around 1913.

Note to poultry exhibitors: Blood tests are required on all birds entered as poultry exhibits in the local fair. Testing will begin at the fairgrounds at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8. (No birds are to be allowed in the barns unless they have been tested.)

Livestock entries will need to be in place for check-ins by 6 p.m. Thursday. The livestock show is scheduled to start at noon Saturday.

Projects and livestock entries from 4-H members can be entered between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday.

At this year’s fair, numerous businesses and organizations are expected to provide information about home safety, school safety, workplace safety, etc.

“School Day” will be observed at the local fair from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sept. 9. During those hours, many additional exhibits and activities will be added specifically for the schoolchildren whose classes are attending the fair. Students will be able to see fair exhibits, visit livestock barns or play on the Turbo Tubs, Three Lane Bungee Run, End Zone Challenge, Kong’s Revenge and the Lil’ Pumper Fire Truck Slide. They also can watch the Insect Adventure or visit the Petting Zoo. Little children can go to the Toddler zone.

Friday’s schedule will change from the daytime student activities to the Youth Horse Show in the evening. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the horse show is exclusively for Osage County residents under age 18. Horse show pre-entries can be submitted at any time. More information can be obtained from Kelly Chouteau at 918-335-7058.

She also is the information contact for the fair’s Craft Show, which has grown to become a Friday and Saturday event. Many crafters will be returning this year and the addition of new booths will allow for continued growth.

Other booths are at the fair to provide information about educational projects, health-related displays and programs that are available for youth, senior citizens, etc.

A Junior Ranch Rodeo will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in the OCF arena. For more information about the junior ranch event, contact Amy Potter at 918-213-5341.

In the early afternoon, arena spectators can see a working ranch horse competition, which starts at 2 p.m. Dwight Bilyk (918-349-2325) can be contacted for additional info about the ranch horse contest.

The annual Fall Ranch Rodeo gets under way in the arena at 5 p.m. Saturday. For more Ranch Rodeo information, the person to contact is Chris Potter at 918-4400326.

Rope-A-Goat will make a command performance at the fair as part of its 2016 Worldwide Tour. Saturday’s local appearance of the renowned goat-roping act at the OCF Outdoor Arena has been made available through a grant from the Humanities Council of Gypsy, Ontario. Film from the roping will be used in an upcoming Dinsey film release.

This year’s Free Fair Talent Show has been expanded to allow all Osage County residents to compete. The show will include judging in four age divisions — K through fourth grade, fifth through eighth grade, ninth through 12th grade and adults. Talent competitions will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday. Deadline for all entries is noon Saturday and no late entries will be accepted.

The Osage County 4-H will be in charge of turtle races, with Saturday’s first post time at 10 a.m. Racing enthusiasts are invited to bring their own decorated entries. Match races around the one-mile Osage Downs oval track are prohibited. The feature event of the day will be the WhizBang 400, a sprint handicap for four-year-olds winners of at least $450,000 in graded-stakes earnings.

Another of the free fair’s fun events will be the Chili and Salsa Cookoff. Entries are due at 9 a.m. Saturday and the cook time will be from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Salsa entries are to be judged in three categories — red salsa, green salsa and fruit salsa. Non-contestants are invited to help with judging for the People’s Choice honor.