Hundreds of volunteers have been scurrying around the Johnson County fairgrounds for weeks, setting up tents, chairs and tables, and making all of the major and minor preparations necessary before thousands of people show up next week.
New pavement and drainage and free wireless internet have been added in the past year as the county has worked to improve the fair experience, fair board president Larry Vandenberg said.
“We are always looking to make improvements every year,” he said.
Vandenberg credits the efforts of hundreds of volunteers for getting everything ready for the fair’s 8 a.m. Sunday opening.
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“We are very fortunate in our county to have a lot of volunteers, a lot of sponsors that help us put on our fair,” Vandenberg said. “That is what makes our fair great. You can’t thank them enough for all the free time they contribute to having a great fair.”
This year, the fair will have about 130 commercial vendors and about 75 food vendors. Hundreds of 4-H’ers have been bringing in their projects for judging the past week. Poor Jack will be running the amusements at the Midway for the 54th consecutive year.
Heavy rain storms that hit Johnson County on Tuesday interrupted fair preparations, but Vandenberg credits a new drainage system with helping get the water to clear up faster than in prior years. A new water main and extra drainage lines were installed earlier this year at several areas of the fair, including the Midway, to improve drainage, he said.
In past years, vendors have occasionally had to set up their tents and displays while there was still water on the ground, Vandenberg said.
With the heavy rainfall out the way, the one concern for next week will be the heat. Temperatures are expected to range from 80 to 90 degrees, he said.
“We’ll set up a lot of fans to get the air moving,” Vandenberg said.
The fairgrounds does have several air conditioned buildings, which people always end up taking advantage of, he said.
“The fair goes on every year regardless of the weather, regardless of the temperature,” he said.
Each year, a local civic group is hired to come in each morning before the fair opens to pick up trash and get everything clean and ready to go. This year, local Boy Scouts will be taking on that responsibility, he said.