By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – People want to get out of the house post-pandemic, and Canadian County Fair organizers believe they have a great place for them to come.
The 67th Annual Canadian County Free Fair will be presented Aug. 23-28 at the new Canadian County Expo & Event Center, 3001 Jensen Road East.
“I see this fair as a huge draw,” Canadian County Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton said. “People are looking to get out and ‘go and do’.
“And our fair this year will provide plenty for them to do!”
Canadian County’s new fairgrounds’ complex is off Jensen and Alfadale roads, just south of Interstate 40 and west of Highway 81. The annual county fair is moving to its previous decades-long venue on N Country Club Road.
“This new county facility is fabulous, and it will create excitement that we’ve never seen before at our county fair,” Tipton declared. “How can you not be excited when you walk into that building?
“This is something citizens can take a lot of pride in because they are the ones who helped accomplish that, with the leadership and foresight of three county commissioners. We went from being in the bottom 12 fairgrounds throughout the state to the top three.”
At the same time, Tipton warned there will be “learning curve” for everybody who attends this year’s fair – the staff, exhibitors and fairgoers alike.
The spacious Canadian County Expo & Event Center will be fully utilized for the upcoming fair activities, including its open-air pavilion, indoor arena, exhibit hall, and outdoor space.
“We’re going to try to ‘mirror’ the set-up from the old fairgrounds as much as possible,” Tipton said.
“This new county facility is bigger, and we don’t have to spread out in four different buildings. We can do everything now on one site. And people are going to like that because it brings the fair together.”
A dedication and ribbon cutting for Canadian County’s new fairgrounds’ facility will be 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 23 to help kick off that week’s events.
Tipton credited Canadian County Commissioners for their “savvy and forethought” to identify a funding source for the project – county use tax revenues. He believes a sales tax or property tax increase would have been soundly defeated.
“David Anderson, Marc Hader and Jack Stewart deserve – from a fair board standpoint – all the ‘props’ in the world,” Tipton added. “Because this wouldn’t have happened without them.
“Nothing happens without bold action. And they took bold action.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian County Fair Board has volunteered long hours preparing for the annual county fair at a brand-new place.
“They were the drivers,” Tipton said.
Members are Chairman Kelly Beck, Vice Chairman Dan Wedman, Treasurer Clint Reuter, Michael Beard, Justin Adkinson, Ken Carpenter, Phil Carson, Brent Hunt, and Mike Crowly.
LOTS OF FAMILY FUN
The 67th Annual Canadian County Free Fair will feature plenty of family fun activities during the week of Aug. 23-28.
- “Show and go” youth livestock events will be Monday (goats and sheep), Tuesday (swine) and Wednesday (cattle) at the livestock barn and arena.
- Entries will be accepted Monday with exhibits judged Tuesday morning in the Expo Center.
“Ribbons will be on everything by Tuesday evening,” Tipton reported. “The fairgrounds will be open to the public to come out and start viewing.”
- Carnival rides and a midway – with traditional fair foods – will be open Wednesday night through Saturday on west side of the building.
- Thursday will feature a poultry show, stick horse rodeo and rabbit show in the livestock barn and arena.
- Friday night’s highlight will be an IPRA (International Professional Rodeo Association) rodeo presented by the El Reno Wranglers inside the arena.
“That rodeo is an example of why we built this new facility – so we can upgrade,” Tipton said. “And that is an upgrade from an ‘open’ rodeo.”
- The county fair’s ever-popular pie contest also will be Friday in the expo center.
- Saturday’s festivities include a horse show, barrel racing, family night awards, and live entertainment by El Reno’s Hunter Thomas.
- A new featured attraction at the Canadian County Fair will be a kids’ zone Thursday, Friday and Saturday on the east side of the pavilion. Children will be able to feed and pet animals.
“This is a new event that hopefully will be a big draw to families with young children,” Tipton said.
For the complete Canadian County Free Fair schedule and entry information, visit www.canadiancountyexpo.org or call (405) 422-5400. Online entries are due 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18.