Despite the lack of a grandstand and going head-to-head with the larger Wisconsin Valley Fair in Wausau, the Lincoln County Fair has a lot to offer July 30-Aug. 3.
This is the third fair since the grandstands at the fairgrounds were razed due to storm damage in 2012. This rules out traditionally popular attractions such as the demolition derby.
“The grandstand is our biggest hurdle,” said Dale Christiansen of the Lincoln County Fair Association. “Running against Wausau I don’t think is going to hurt us a whole lot. People who want to see that bigger entertainment (at the Wisconsin Valley Fair) are going to go there anyway.”
The Lincoln County Fair dates were moved this year to accommodate a new carnival provider. After having problems with the previous carnival, the fair inked a three-year deal with Mr. Ed’s Magical Midway. However, the only week Mr. Ed’s had available this year was the same week as the Wausau fair. Starting next year, the Lincoln County Fair will return to its regular dates.
Mr. Ed’s wanted to work with Lincoln County, so to sweeten the deal they offered an extra incentive.
“To help up to make a decision to run concurrently with the Wausau fair, they offered us some money upfront,” Christiansen said.
The fair has invested that money into daily performances by Bruno’s Tigers. The tiger show will have pens set up under a tent for viewing and will put on multiple free performances each day of the fair. The trained tigers normally work much larger venues and will be traveling to the Iowa State Fair following their stop in Merrill.
“Without the grandstand shows we’ve been hearing that there’s nothing down there,” Christiansen said. “Now you can’t say that there’s nothing there.”
Christiansen said the Fair Association is excited to be working with Mr. Ed’s. The company will be bringing a lot of newer rides.
“They’ll be bringing as many rides and games as we can find room to put it,” he said.
Changing the dates of the fair caused a couple of the regular food vendors to chose to go to Wausau. The carnival will bring a couple of new food vendors to take their place.
Mr. Ed’s brings a semi load of landscaping items and flowers to every fair they visit.
The fairgrounds will also feature 14 wheelbarrow gardens created by after school programs in Lincoln County. Sponsors helped purchase the wheelbarrows, soil, fertilizer and plants.
“Once the fair is over, we’re looking at getting them out in the community,” Christiansen said.
At the end of the summer, the wheelbarrows will be collected and ready to be replanted next spring.
This year’s fair will also feature the first annual Outhouse Races on Saturday evening at the east end of the fairgrounds. Several teams have already signed up for the fun competition which involves an outhouse on wheels, three people pushing it and one riding in it.
“It should be a lot of fun and very entertaining,” Christiansen said.
Competitors pay an entry fee and all the money goes back in place winnings.
A pedal tractor pull will be offered for children ages 5-12 on Saturday afternoon. The tractors and a pulling sled will be provided and all children are encouraged to participate.
“What we’re trying to provide is family fun, get-involved types of things,” Christiansen said.
An artist will be doing free caricature drawings throughout the fair. The U.S. Army approached the Lincoln County Fair about bringing a motorcycle built for the Army by Orange County Choppers. That bike will be on display at the fair all week.
The Merrill Wrestling Alumni tent will offer live entertainment each night, featuring America’s Party Band, Crystal and the Commotions, Rabid Aardvarks and Geoff Landon & the Wolfpack.
As always, admission to the Lincoln County Fair is free. The only cost is to park on the grounds, which is $10 and two non-perishable food items for a season parking pass.
The youth and open class exhibition portion of the fair also remains the same, with entries up over last year. The fair did take 4-H out of the event name a couple of years ago, but that directive came from the national 4-H association, which didn’t want to give the impression that they are in the fair business.