By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Extreme heat kept the event from breaking an attendance record, but an estimated 18,000-19,000 people still came out to the 2023 Canadian County Free Fair.
“Under the Big Top” was the theme of the Aug. 23-26 fair hosted by the Canadian County Expo & Event Center, 3001 Jensen Road East.
“We had between 18,000 and 19,000,” Canadian County Fair Board Secretary Brad Tipton said. “Last year was the highest (attendance) we’ve had, but we had cool weather for the fair.”
Triple-digit temperatures last week and weekend forced many fairgoers off the midway and inside the air-conditioned facilities.
Canadian County is among only a handful of counties across Oklahoma that have fully air-conditioned buildings for fair exhibits and livestock.
“That saved us this past weekend, or the fair would not have been the robust event it was,” Tipton said.
Canadian County’s indoor arena – which hosted youth livestock competitions and some vendors – and the event center – which housed exhibits and most vendor booths – were “abnormally busy” throughout this year’s fair, Tipton pointed out.
“The carnival was very sporadic depending on what the weather was outside,” he said. “What hurt us on numbers was Saturday afternoon. It was so hot that nobody was out on the carnival. We had a large crowd in the morning, it tapered off a little between 1-3:30 p.m., then started picking back up.
“Friday night was really good and Saturday night was really good.”
The parking lot was packed both evenings.
“Friday night, we probably had the largest number of automobiles ever parked out here,” Tipton said.
The Canadian County Fair featured 40 indoor vendor booths.
“All vendors are coming back except one, and I’ve got a waiting list of five that want to come in,” Tipton said. “You don’t get a waiting list on county fair vendor booths unless people are out here.”
The food offerings were varied and tasty.
“We had 10 food trucks, and all of them said they did better than last year,” Tipton added. “The onion-fried burger was a big hit. The aroma was in the air.
“A couple fair board members said the Cajun chicken was as good a chicken as they’d ever ate.”
Also popular were southern comfort food, barbecue, fish tacos, soul food, Italian sausage, brats, cinnamon rolls, snow cones, tea, and soft drinks; along with the traditional fair carnival fare – corn dogs, funnel cakes and cotton candy.
This marked the third year Canadian County’s free fair was at the $20 million fairgrounds’ complex, which opened in July 2021. The previous fair site was 220 N Country Club Road.
Yukon’s Lynda Landrith on Aug. 26 earned the 2023 Outstanding Canadian County Citizen Award during the Canadian County Fair’s Family Night festivities.
Donna Stangl-Jung, Canadian County’s extension educator for family and consumer sciences, presented Landrith with a certificate and the winning cookie jar entry – made by Sunshine OHCE (Oklahoma Home and Community Education) of Mustang.
Jung announced other Canadian County Fair contest winners:
- Quilt Block Challenge Contest: Georgeanne Chapman (first place), Christy Lee (second place), Sharon Walls (third place), Maxine Wiedemann (fourth place), and Norrene Gills (fifth place).
- Ice Cream Freeze-Off Contest: Marbi Symes (butter pecan ice cream).
- Best of Baked Goods – Junior Division: Lyla Smith (white yeast bread).
- Best of Baked Goods – Senior Division: Amy Durst (braided round bread).
- Junior Champion Pie Maker: Halle Hunt (peach pie).
- Senior Champion Pie Maker: Jennifer Bornemann (coconut cream pie).
- Busy Baker Award: Amy Durst.
- Best of Bread Baking Contest – Senior Division Champion: Lindsey Westfall (white yeast bread).
- Best of Bread Baking Contest – Senior Division Reserve Champion: Shirley Rychner (everything bagel bread).
- Best of Bread Baking Contest – Junior Division Champion/Reserve Champion: Trevor Westfall (white bread and cinnamon rolls).
- Quilt Block Challenge: Georgeanne Chapman (first place), Christy Lee (second place), Sharon Walls (third place), Maxine Wiedemann (fourth place), and Norrene Gill (fifth place).
- Quilt Raffle: Al Harrell.
More details about these Canadian County Fair contests with photos will appear in upcoming editions of The Yukon Progress.