Bigger, better fair comes to town

-A A +A
By Ryan Naus

The Grant County Fair started behind the Grant County Courthouse before they outgrew that space.

Now, the fair has moved to their new fairgrounds on Baton Rouge Road in Williamstown after outgrowing the Grant County Park in Crittenden.

“We outgrew the park, so we’re going to the new grounds and we’re hoping we can continue to grow,” Patsy Kinman, fair board secretary, said. “You have to keep building on your fair in order to have something different each year. We want to meet the needs of the community.”

As the fair continues to grow, the events have changed due to what the fair-goers want to see.

“People-wise, the fair has grown. Tractor pulls and demolition derbies have become a big thing over the years. Horse shows used to be the thing. Now, the cattle show is big too,” Kinman said. “I think people’s interests change. It’s something to do. A lot of people come to the Grant County Fair because we have a multitude of things for people to do and see.”

Bill Cull, current fair board president and a member since 1973, believes the fair can keep growing now that they have moved to the new fairgrounds.

“We expect a lot of people to come and see the new fairgrounds and the new buildings,” Cull said.

“People come to the fair and they seem to enjoy what we have, whether it’s the food or the events that have people coming back each year. We try to have events for everybody.”

The fair now has several horse shows and tractor pulls, but Rekenna Hopperton, a member of the fair board for 13 years, remembers a time when that wasn’t the case.

“We went from one horse show and one tractor show to shows every night,” Hopperton, assistant treasurer, said. “We also started with only Miss Grant County Fair and now we have a pageant for every age.”

The fair board put $30,000 into the new fairgrounds, along with a $100,000 state grant, but believe that the cost will pay future dividends.

“We’ve taken on a big expense, but we’re trying to make the fair better,” Hopperton said. “We’re starting again from the ground up. We had everything already set up at the Grant County Park and now we’re starting from the ground up. This year will just be a start.”

Denise Bachman is in charge of the pageants and is entering her 19th year as a fair board member.

“Each year, we’ve tried to make it bigger and better,” Bachman said. “We finally grew out of the space and now we’re going to the new fairgrounds. The size has changed and it’s pretty amazing. The fair board members are my second family. I’m not surprised that it’s grown because there are so many people that put so much time into it.”

Bachman has seen how the fair has grown and believes this year will be the start of something special as the fair continues to get better. The pageants have changed also as the Little Miss and Mister Pageant is moved to the final Friday (July 31) of the fair.

“It’s a work in progress, but each year it will get bigger and better,” Bachman said. “I’d like people to come out and be surprised at how established it is after moving from one place to another in a year’s time.”

The new fairgrounds don’t have the bleachers that Grant County Park had, but the fair board encourages fair patrons to bring lawn chairs and blankets.