Carnival contract inked for ’23 Canadian County Fair

Makes ‘big difference’ in turnout and enthusiasm, Tipton says

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Canadian County Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

EL RENO – With the carnival helping attract huge crowds to Canadian County’s annual fair, officials have quickly executed a contract for next year’s carnival.

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Just 10 days after the 2022 county fair ended, a new agreement with the carnival operator was formally approved.

Great Plains Amusements of Rush Springs, Okla. presents Canadian County’s highly popular fair carnival.

Canadian County’s carnival is in the “top five” among some 35 events this carnival vendor presents annually in a four-state region, Great Plains’ Joe Lujan told county fair officials.

“We have a really good relationship, and he can’t wait to come back,” Canadian County Free Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton said. “Joe has always done us right. We appreciate him and he appreciates us.

“It’s a mutual respect.”

Basing crowd estimates on carnival ride ticket and wristband sales, Canadian County fair officials reported record attendance during the four-day engagement.

The 68th Annual Canadian County Free Fair was presented Aug. 24-27 at the Canadian County Expo & Event Center, 3001 Jensen Road East.

This was the fair’s second year at the “new” Canadian County fairgrounds, south of Interstate 40 and east of State Highway 81.

“A carnival and fair go together,” Tipton added. “Having a carnival does increase attendance dramatically.

“It makes a big difference in the turnout and the enthusiasm and activity at an event.”

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Canadian County Commissioners on Sept. 6 voted 3-0 to approve the contract with Great Plains Amusements to provide the carnival at the 69th annual county fair set Aug. 23-26, 2023 in El Reno.

The agreement was signed by Lujan for Great Plains Amusements and Canadian County Commission Chairman Dave Anderson for Canadian County.

Great Plains Amusements will pay Canadian County 25% of the gross received during rides and shows and $25 for each concession operated at the four-day county fair carnival, according to the agreement.

The contract specifies wristband prices for the 2023 Canadian County Free Fair carnival rides – $30 for Wednesday and Thursday (6-10 p.m.) and Friday and Saturday (6-11 p.m.) and $25 for Saturday (noon to 4 p.m.).

The success of this year’s fair demonstrates that Canadian County “needs more parking” at its fairgrounds’ venue, according to District 1 County Commissioner Marc Hader.

Besides the well-attended carnival, county officials noted increased participation in the Canadian County Free Fair’s exhibits and competitions since the event moved last year to the $20 million expo center.

“It’s been about two-thirds better than the best year at the old fairgrounds,” Tipton noted.

Great Plains Amusements has been Canadian County’s fair carnival operator for about 20 years. That first year, fair officials moved their scheduled fair dates to accommodate the carnival.

“We’re very fortunate we did,” Tipton related. “It’s tough to find a carnival.”

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