Story County Fair

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So, I’ve lived in Story County 16 years and have never so much as stepped foot on the Story County Fairgrounds in Nevada.

I’m not a big fair person. I grew up in Missouri and remember going to the Missouri State Fair exactly twice, once as a kid and once as a chaperone for a group of disabled youth when I was in high school. Neither visit was particularly pleasant, though the latter was memorable for being peed on while riding the scrambler with Pansy Petry.

I’ve lived in a number of counties in the Midwest but never attended a county fair. I figure, it’s about time.

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I learned — from some source I can’t recall — that the Story County Fair would run July 20-24. I was out of town the weekend of July 20-21, the prime time to attend the fair. So that’s one strike against me. I tried to find a schedule of events but the Story County Fair website is impenetrable and apparently targeted only toward fair participants, not fairgoers. That’s one strike against them.

I finally found a schedule by opening a section titled “Fair and Pre-Fair” in the giant “Fair Book” that includes rules, contests, and all manner of livestock competition including something called “herdsmanship.” The whole apparently hinges on 4-H.

Since I obviously work full time and would miss all the daytime fun, I decided that the schedule looked fairly decent on Tuesday night. That’s when I went.

The fairgrounds are easy to find, and the parking is decent. There’s no cost to enter the fair. There’s also no beer tent, which was a disappointment to my husband, Dave. Also, there was no food on a stick.

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What there IS at the Story County Fair is livestock. Cows and calfs, sheep, chickens, rabbits, pigs, and the like. We visited the rabbit/poultry barn, filled with adorableness — and also it was very clean and non-smelly. We moved on to the swine barn, also clean, considering it was filled with large hogs (see photo at top for a prime example). I was disappointed that there were no baby pigs. We walked through the cattle barn and the sheep barn. We briefly watched a competition in the pavilion with other people’s kids showing calves. I quickly grew bored.

By this time we were really hungry, so we went to one of two large food stands where you sort of belly-up to the kitchen and order from a laminated menu that includes lamb burgers, loose meat burgers, corn dogs (oops…those might be on sticks), chili cheese fries, and nachos. Not much healthy or vegetarian food to choose from. I got an order of french fries ($2.00) and a free cup of water. After I finished off the fries, I ate a piece of homemade peach pie with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, all for $3.50. Yummy, and reasonably priced.

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We wandered around a bit more after that and watched a drill team performance at the horse arena.

Activities that went on over the weekend and during the daytime hours included a rabbit-hopping show, a photography silent auction, small pet judging, a cat fun show, a petting zoo, parade, queen coronation, celebrity milk-off, a dog show, and something called a “goat milk out.”

All in all, it was a family-friendly, inexpensive way to spend a summer evening. It was safe, clean, and small enough that you could take your preschoolers and not worry about them getting away from you. and I’m guessing they’d love the animals.

I think if I had preschoolers I’d be inclined to go back next year.

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