My Assessment of the Cherokee County Fair

Cherokee County Fair

Overall, the first Cherokee County Fair in decades was a great success.  Most of the comments to volunteers, county workers, and to me personally confirm that opinion.

As can be expected for any “first time” event, there are many things could have been done better, some things we need to change, some things we need to eliminate, and others we need to add.

Several weeks ago, some of the folks involved with the planning of the event got together to voice opinions and share ideas.  Here is a synopsis of their comments:

Facility Issues

Parking on site is insufficient, especially if the crowd had been larger.  The shuttle service, however, worked very well, both between Ranger Elementary School and the newly created parking area near the cell tower.  There was some concern expressed about creating a better separation between vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Pavilion was dusty; pea gravel doesn’t work with wheelchairs; old livestock ramp needs to be removed; pavilion lights dim; electrical supply needs to be upgraded further to 400 amps as there were some electrical issues for the vendors; drainage issues with horse arena need fixing; more general lighting needed; better sound system all day for music and announcements.

Events

More activities needed – Midway rides if possible or at least Midway-style games; more activities for children; announcement of events, handout schedule of events on entry; better advertising.

Some folks suggested more local talent and a better mix of musical genres.

The Friday night local talent night had that kind of variety – clogging, singer-songwriter, country, southern rock, and classic rock acts were featured.  The quality was outstanding.  Unfortunately, Friday night was homecoming at MHS which limited attendance at the Fair.  Originally, we wanted to have the Fair the previous weekend when MHS had no game, but that date conflicted with a previously scheduled saddle club event.

The horse-related events, activities in and around the arena, and the school musical performances were excellent, but no one could hear what was going on.  I offered to provide a professional PA system for the Saddle Club and the School system, but both said that their own systems would be adequate.  The PA system I used for the Friday night concert and Sunday morning church could have been available and would have solved those problems.

Although Phil Vassar put on an incredible performance and graciously made himself available for pictures and autographs to anyone who went backstage after the show, many felt that the money spent was not warranted.  In general, I agree.  I was, however, truly amazed at how costly big name talent has become.  Artists with similar or better name recognition currently demand $50,000 or more.  Attendance could possibly have been better with more extensive advertising in surrounding communities.  You should realize, however, that $30,000 was donated specifically to sign a major act like Phil Vassar and would not have been otherwise given and available.  You should also realize that the Phil Vassar’s contract was not signed until the $30,000 donation was firmly guaranteed.

Sunday church was a truly fantastic event.  The combination of inspired preaching and great gospel music made for a morning that was emotionally and spiritually satisfying to all who attended.  Don’t miss it next year.

Planning

Start earlier; better coordination with school system; review and implement a better facility plan for the MFC.  Permanent improvements made for the fair will allow the facility to be used for many other events.

Here are some comments about what many considered their favorite activities:

Tractor parade/rides, petting zoo, pony rides, Sunday church was awesome, food was great (could have been more variety), local music talent, dunking booth, pie-eating contest.  The younger school kids had a great time.

General opinion was that the fair was a positive and successful event for Cherokee County.  It brought many of our citizens together to be part of the planning process and to enjoy a long-awaited county-wide event.  With better planning and necessary changes, the Cherokee County Fair could become an even better annual event.

Commissioner Eichenbaum’s Motion:

On behalf of the citizens of Cherokee County, the Commission expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the committee members, volunteers, participants, sponsors, and donors who made the Cherokee County Fair possible.

The Commission agrees to form as of tonight a Cherokee County Fair Committee.  To ensure continuity of planning, participation in this year’s committee will be offered to those who planned the 2015 event to take advantage of their first-hand experience.

The specific task of the committee will be to create a definite plan and budget for the 2016 Fair within 90 days of tonight’s meeting.  Upon receipt of the proposed plan and budget, the commission will decide how to proceed.

Motion was adopted unanimously.