By Robert Tomlinson
CENTREVILLE — The 172nd St. Joseph County Grange Fair is now in the books, and organizers say this year’s event was fairly well-received by the community.
Compared to previous years, Fair Board Member Mindy Timm said this year’s fair was “probably one of our most successful years.”
“We heard a lot of good positive things from people regarding the layout of the rides and all of the different free activities we could bring to people, so I would just say this year was definitely a success over years’ past,” Timm said.
With thousands upon thousands of people visiting the fairgrounds throughout the week, there was plenty to do at this year’s fair, which took place Sept. 17-23. From visiting the 4-H barns and watching 4-H shows to the midway, food vendors and grandstand events, there was a little something for everybody.
Heritage Hall was one of the biggest new attractions to this year’s fair, which featured a number of historical items from the 1950s time period, including a fire truck from the era, vintage motorcycles and vehicles, a replica kitchen and living room, a camper from that era, and a number of items from the history of Constantine. Timm said from what fairgoers told her during the festival, Heritage Hall received positive feedback.
“They liked they could go in there and see the history that a lot of people don’t know about, see the different things from that era they were displaying,” Timm said. “People really liked it, thought it was cool, and hoped we’d continue it for years to come.”
Timm said Heritage Hall would have rotating eras and towns to highlight every year moving forward.
When it came to grandstand events, some of the more popular ones attendance-wise included the NTPA Regional National Modified Truck and Tractor Pulls, which occurred on Friday and Saturday. Due to rain on Sunday, part of the farm truck and semi pulls were moved to Saturday, giving grandstand-goers a little extra treat that day.
“We switched the semi classes around for the semi pulls for Friday and Saturday night after the NTPA pull, which was cool, because those who planned to come to the NTPA event got an extra show of semis and semi pulling,” Timm said.
However, there were some fairgoers that panned the figure-eight racing event on Tuesday due to low participation and lack of excitement. Timm said the event had a lot of factors go into it, and those type of events are a “gamble.”
“The event is always hard, because they have a car count and either things come up the day of or people can’t make it down or they have something come up where it just doesn’t work out in our schedule anymore, so that always is a gamble you take when you put on an event like that as well,” Timm said.
She added that there is the possibility that figure-eight racing could be combined with the demolition derby and bump-n-run derby in future years, but nothing has been set in stone as of yet.
This year’s midway featured a bit more delineation between rides for smaller kids and rides for bigger kids and adults, with kids rides moving more toward the midway and grandstand and older kids’ rides moving back to the area of Machinery Row. While it wasn’t the same as having a completely separated Kiddie Land, Timm said the layout of this year’s midway was “very good.”
“I feel, in the times I walked through on busy days, it was nice to walk through the midway portion up front by the office and down toward Barn 40 and 41 that the lines weren’t out into the midway, it wasn’t congested, but there were a lot of people up there with all the kid rides, and it was nice to walk back out toward Machinery Row and see the long lines, but they weren’t bottling up the midway,” Timm said.
Timm added that 4-H had a good year, with events happening every single day and exhibits and animals being shown throughout the week.
“It’s always cool as a past 4-Her to go down there to see the shows and walk through the animal barns and still exhibits and see all the hard work throughout the year pay off during fair week,” Timm said.
Timm noted that the St. Joseph County Fair inducted Bill Younts and Charlie Carpenter, two current board members, into the fair’s Hall of Fame.
The Community Tent and Free Stage were well-attended all week, along with the Pork Chop Revue at Heritage Park. DeWayne Spaw, a country music singer, popped up at numerous times during fair week, especially at the grandstand events and on Sunday when events were rained out, something Timm said was a good thing to utilize.
“It was nice to be able to have him and utilize him, but also give people the live music they’re looking for during the show or just walking around on the fairgrounds,” Timm said.
Attendance-wise, Timm said it was a bit slow in the start of the week, with things ramping up Friday and Saturday, their two biggest dates. Overall, she said this year’s fair went over well, and are looking forward to next year.
“We are here to put on this event for the community, county and surrounding counties, and that’s one big thing we really strived for this year, to give everyone a great fair,” Timm said. “Our biggest thing is to make sure things are better than last year and make it better than it was in years before.”
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or email@example.com.