Estimated 18-19K come out to Canadian County Fair

Indoor air-conditioned buildings 'Under the Big Top' packed during extreme heat

Marbi Symes receives congratulations from Canadian County Fair Board Member Ken Carpenter (second from left) after winning the inaugural “Ice Cream Freeze-off” contest sponsored by Ken Carpenter Auction & Realty. The judges - Canadian County Commissioners Dave Anderson, Tom Manske and Tracey Rider - selected Symes’ butter pecan ice cream as the best. (Photo by Jeremy Pyle)

By Conrad Dudderar
Associate Editor

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.

Eight-year-old Jax Ashley’s face shows the thrill of the Fun Slide on the carnival midway. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
Livestock show exhibitor number 199, Merritt Major, carefully guides her crossbred hog towards the judge during the county fair swine show. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
Kadin Worthington, 13, shows-off the blue ribbon he won for his fair entry, a homemade “Shorthorn” wooden lantern. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
As the Friday night headliners, members of the band Smokin’ Oaks – from left, Slaid Cross, Colton Blake, Noah Morris, and Conner Pattison – sing an old Cross Canadian Ragweed outside the Canadian County Expo Center in El Reno. (Photo by Cara Pattison)


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 GoodsJunior Division: Lyla Smith (white yeast bread).
  • Best of Baked GoodsSenior 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 ContestSenior 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.

Friends, from left, Kelby Worthington and Raeley Crouch enjoy a high-flying ride on the carnival Ferris wheel at the 69th Annual Canadian County Free Fair. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
With the help of her eight-year-old brother, Joe (left), 4-H member Addy Goodman, 13, shows-off the quilt that won her a second-place ribbon at the county fair. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
Yukon High School senior Evan Hinkle, 17, shows the cross-bred hog that won him a ribbon for Reserve Crossbred and Reserve Overall Swine categories. (Photo by Cara Pattison)
Parker Ellis, 13, hangs on tightly as he enjoys the view from the top of a carnival ride named “Trabant.” (Photo by Cara Pattison)
Yukon author Una Belle Townsend (right) displays the books she’s written in her Canadian County Fair booth alongside fellow local author Maria Veras. (Photo by Jeremy Pyle)
Canadian County livestock youth stand with their sheep in the arena during sheep show judging. Piedmont FFA President Callen Minyard won the competition. (Photo by Jeremy Pyle)