By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – All roads will lead to the 68th Annual Canadian County Free Fair – and the main road will be resurfaced in time for the festivities.
The fair will open next Wednesday, Aug. 24 and run through Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Canadian County Expo & Event Center, 3001 Jensen Road East.
A 2-1/2-mile section of Jensen Road from Highway 81 to a half mile east of Radio Road is receiving an asphalt overlay to benefit people going to the fairgrounds.
“We’re getting the roads paved in that area in front of it,” District 3 Canadian County Commissioner Jack Stewart said. “Besides Jensen Road, we’re paving a half-mile of Alfadale from Interstate 40 to Jensen Road.”
The work is being done by Schwarz Paving, which has Canadian County’s six-month contracts for asphalt road projects. Crews started Wednesday and will be finished early next week.
Project cost is $500,000, paid with county funds.
In July 2021, the City of El Reno de-annexed these stretches of Jensen and Alfadale to Canadian County after the expo center opened.
“We had gone in, chip sealed and cleaned up the roads last year,” Stewart added. “This (overlay) is going to make them better.”
Canadian County’s three-term District 3 commissioner predicted this new pavement on Jensen and Alfadale roads would last about 10 years.
“This is still not going to be the final, ‘ultimate’ construction but we’re making gradual improvement,” he noted. “At some point, Tracey will come in and really fix it right.”
Stewart was referring to District 3 Commissioner-elect Tracey Rider, who will succeed him after he resigns in November to become the new District 18 state senator. Rider is now an El Reno City Council member.
The annual Canadian County Free Fair had been presented for many decades at the fairgrounds on Country Club Road. Then, the $20 million Canadian County Expo & Event Center opened on July 4th weekend in 2021.
Canadian County Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton reported “record” crowds attended the fair last August.
Next week’s 68th Annual Canadian County Free Fair will feature carnival rides, a cornhole tournament, pony rides, free concert featuring Jack Waters and the Unemployed, karaoke and open mic, food trucks, vendors, and more.
“It’s a big, big deal around here – especially after last year with the new buildings and larger area for the activities,” Commissioner Stewart said.
County officials anticipate strong attendance at the upcoming four-day fair, prompting the desire to resurface Jensen and Alfadale.
While Canadian County’s fair venue is centrally located just south of I-40 on the east side of El Reno, critics have noted the roads leading to the site have been somewhat rough.
Entry to the Canadian County Fair is free to the public. Carnival wristbands will be $30 each day.
For more information, call (405) 422-5400 or visit www.CanadianCountyExpo.org