Cruising NWKS: Five years in the making for fair success
By GAYLE WEBER
NESS CITY -- Shelby Seib and Joanne Stenzel -- sisters born, raised and still living in Ness City -- grew up without air conditioning, so sitting in the shade with temperatures surpassing 105 degrees last week at the Ness County Fair wasn't all that awful. The sisters go out to the fair at least one evening every year and look forward to the entertainment.
Streetside, a band performing 1970s and '80s music Thursday evening, was just the right speed for Seib and Stenzel.
"I'm past those games," Seib said with a laugh, pointing to the carnival rides on the fairgrounds.
But for many of the children in Ness County, the carnival is a welcome improvement, just as the entertainment is for the adults, to the Ness County Fair.
Just five short years ago, the fair had little to offer in the way of entertainment for families, but that all has changed, with the carnival adding numerous rides in the past five years, and the fair board beefing up its entertainment schedule to include live music.
"We just got wrangled into it," said Mike Rupp, president of the Ness County Amusement Co. "And we've come a long ways."
The carnival includes rides for younger children including a train and carousel, and rides for older children include a Tilt-A-Whirl and Octopus.
Ann Baus sat on a bench near the Octopus ride, watching as some of her Rush County Roadrunners 4-H club photography members rode the rides at the carnival.
Baus took her 4-H members to the neighboring county fair to give them some last minute ideas before they enter their photos for the Rush County Fair, scheduled for Aug. 1 to 4 in La Crosse.
"They get to see the fair in advance," said Baus from Alexander. "They always get some ideas during our fair, but by then it's too late, so we came to see what was champion here."
Baus hadn't been to the Ness County Fair in many years, but was happy to see the changes.
"It's come alive the past few years," she said.
But that wouldn't be without the help of the community's volunteers. Rupp said it takes approximately 90 volunteers each night of the carnival to run the rides. He spent much of the weekend distributing water to those workers on the 100-degree nights during the fair.
Volunteers also are responsible for coordinating the fair board sponsored activities on the fairgrounds.
"I think it's one of the best fairs we've had in a while," fair board president Bryan Foos said.