Fair weather helps keep stands packed
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The Ellis County Fair Board was looking for more family-oriented activities for this year's week-long event.
It didn't count on also getting some near-perfect summer weather, making the 2013 fair one of the coolest ever -- in more ways than one.
Through the first few days of the Ellis County Fair this week, events have been well attended, partly because browsing the fairgrounds even in the heat of the day is bearable.
Temperatures in the 80s and low 90s during the daytime have made for cooler temperatures as evening approaches, and nighttime activities have been packed.
And a good share of those visitors have been youngsters.
Completing her first year as fair board president is Jill Pfannenstiel, who is following in the steps of her grandfather, Paul Baier, who served as president from 1985 through 1996.
Pfannenstiel said she and other members of the board "wanted more family things to get more people out here. So we brainstormed and came up with some we thought we would give a try."
The Hedrick's Racing Pigs show out of Nickerson definitely has been a hit, with throngs of people standing around the small arena to watch young squealing piglets make their way around a track en route to grabbing an Oreo cookie on a silver platter.
Just as crowded Wednesday evening was an area in a corner of Unrein Family Building where children could get their faces painted and take with them a balloon tied in the shape of an animal.
While hundreds of people enjoyed the rodeo in the rodeo arena on the south end of the fairgrounds, others watched youngsters participated in the pedal tractor pull up on the midway. Nearby, the lights of the carnival shown brightly, while folks crowded around the 4-H food stand to get something to eat or drink.
"You couldn't ask for any better weather," Pfannenstiel said, who added that everything has run smoothly so far. "Last year was unbearably hot (with 100-plus degree temperatures all week), and a few years ago, it rained every day."
Pfannenstiel's two oldest children -- Lane, 14, and Colton, 9 -- are in 4-H, with the Good Hope club, so her interests in the fair are two-fold.
"The fair is a family event," said Pfannenstiel, who first met her husband, Clint Pfannenstiel, at the fair years ago. "So it's good to see this many people out here with their families."
Carrying out their first duties Wednesday as the new Ellis County rodeo queen and princess after being crowned at the rodeo the night before were queen Jill Pokorny, 17, and princess Taylor Weidenhaft, 11, both members of the Bits 'N Spurs 4-H Club.
Car races the first two nights of the fair were followed by rodeos the next two nights at the RPM Speedway.
The Cody Canada and the Departed concert is scheduled for tonight, with the Combine Demolition Derby and Hot Rod Garden Tractor Pull on Friday and the Ellis County Demolition Derby on Saturday.