Rodeo expected at 67th annual Canadian County Fair

Fair board, commissioners discuss options for new venue

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Canadian County Expo & Event Center manager Nathan Smith (standing at right) speaks April 5 during a special Canadian County Fair Board / Canadian County Commissioners’ meeting in El Reno. The nine-member fair board is chaired by Yukon’s Kelly Beck. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – A rodeo event is expected at the 67th annual Canadian County Free Fair.

What group will stage the rodeo – or perhaps even a bull-riding competition – has not been determined.

The nine-member Canadian County Fair Board convened a special meeting April 5 with the county’s OSU Extension Office staff to share their vision with Canadian County Commissioners.

The 2021 county fair will be April 23-28 at the new Canadian County Expo & Event Center, at the corner of Jensen and Alfadale roads near El Reno.

Canadian County Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton

“The rodeo brings out the crowd Friday night,” Canadian County Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton advised fair board members. “We don’t want to lose it.”

County fair officials on May 4 want to “roll out to the public” their ideas for the 67th annual fair, Tipton added.

“We need a solid game plan,” he told the fair board.

Meeting participants on April 5 share their thoughts about the event schedule – from indoor vendor exhibits and junior livestock shows to a rodeo and live entertainment.

A carnival will return this year, open from Wednesday through Saturday nights. Other highlights will include a kiddie tractor pull, horse show and 4-H youth competitions.

The spacious multi-use Canadian County Expo & Event Center will offer ample of space for fair activities, according to director/marketing manager Nathan Smith.

The new expo center will provide about 19,000 square feet of space compared to 15,000 square feet combined at the education building and fieldhouse on the current fairgrounds, Smith noted.

This marks the first year the annual fair will be at Canadian County’s new fairgrounds’ complex, so some adjustments are needed.

Smith asked fair board members to offer “your vision of what you want the event to encompass.” He shared a potential layout for the various events and programs expected.

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DEPENDS ON THE RODEO

The 2021 Canadian County Free Fair schedule depends on whether there will be a Friday night rodeo, county extension director Kyle Worthington noted.

The El Reno Wranglers are being approached about having their rodeo in a new 46,000 square foot, air-conditioned arena.

Should that group not want to have the rodeo during the August county fair, other rodeo contractors could be recruited.

District 2 County Commissioner Dave Anderson suggested to the fair board offer the indoor arena space for free but keep a 20% share of the gate from the rodeo.

Tipton liked that idea.

“The better we do, the better they do,” he said.

Canadian County’s agriculture instructors “are interested in having livestock shows” Monday through Wednesday nights during the fair, Yukon ag teacher Scott Stevens told fair board members.

Ag students could return Saturday for a “quiz bowl”.

“The ag teachers in this county get along well,” said Stevens, offering their help with 4-H youth competitions.

Tipton suggested using clean-up efforts between the livestock shows and rodeo as the “Farmhand Olympics.”

This way students can finish the required cleaning “in a fun, competitive way,” he added.

Meanwhile, Worthington predicted the new Canadian County Expo & Event Center would draw larger, wider audiences for live evening entertainment.

The facility can accommodate both indoor and outdoor entertainment stages during fair week, Smith noted.

Meanwhile, county fair board members and commissioners agreed to make the 2021 fair alcohol-free.

Alcohol could be offered at a future fair rodeo event.

“Not this year, but we should keep our minds open down the road,” Fair Board Vice Chairman Dan Wedman said.

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