It was a record year for the Webster County Fair last week with the 2023 season breaking the overall attendance record.
“This year we were up 25-30% from the best fair we’ve had,” explained Webster County Fair Board President Eugene Cantrell. “It was definitely an attendance record. The kitchen sales were also up about 20-25%, which is another record broken this year.”
Kitchen volunteers this year included the Knights of Columbus, The Show Me Cowboy Church, The Well Redemption and Lebanon Encounter Ministries.
The beef cattle show was larger than past years and was beautifully managed by Justin Cron, according to Cantrell.
“They definitely had their hands full with the livestock shows and we were proud of the way Justin handled four days of shows back to back,” Cantrell added. “We also had a sold-out Centennial building and filled every spot with vendors.”
Vendors at the fair are filled on a first come, first serve basis and it wouldn’t hurt for those interested in being a vendor next year to go ahead and reserve their spot now.
“We’re already working on the details for the 2024 fair,” Cantrell said. “We already have our dates set for next year. We have our pulling sled ready and we’ve got Derby contacts connected and a carnival contract for next year as well.”
The carnival set up from this year will be the one returning in 2024.
“You have to get those things lined up and contracts signed early because carnivals are not as easy to come by as they were before COVID,” Cantrell said. “We were told that 17 more carnivals dropped out of fairs last year and we saw a little of that when our scheduled carnival backed out at the last minute due to them shutting down. Some of those things are unavoidable on our end but we were pleased with the carnival this year and it couldn’t have gone better. We’re excited to have them come back in 2024.”
According to Cantrell, the success of this year’s fair should be credited to every single person who volunteered their time to help in the execution of the event.
“We want to thank everyone who volunteered to work in the kitchen, our cattle show organizers and judges, everyone who worked hard in the exhibition building, our vendors, our entertainers, announcers and everyone who worked a gate for us,” said Cantrell. “We couldn’t have done it without you and those kinds of volunteers are what make people want to come back. Thank you.”
Cantrell said he wasn’t sure if they’d be able to beat the crowd Tuesday night for the Independence Day Rodeo and firework display, but the crowd Saturday beat it with the fair’s largest gate numbers.
Fair programming included the rodeo Tuesday and Wednesday, sheep and bottle calf shows Wednesday evening, a diary cattle show Thursday morning, followed by a dairy cattle show and hometown truck and tractor pulls that evening, a meat goat show and sanctioned truck and tractor pulls Friday and beef cattle and poultry, along with a demolition derby on Saturday.
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