Fair attendance rebounds after early struggles

A line of people wait to pay for tickets to enter the fairgrounds Wednesday night ahead of a monster truck show. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Kosciusko County’s Community Fair saw a strong turnout Wednesday night after some challenging conditions earlier in the week.

Fair Board President Randy Shepherd admitted it had been a tough week prior to Wednesday.

A transformer explosion Sunday night soon after the fair opened was blamed on heat and an ever-growing reliance on electricity for campers, food vendors and show barns on the fairgrounds. The explosion and a brief fire on a pole next to the Beaver Dam 4-H food stand led to a power outage across parts of the fairgrounds for several hours.

Other electrical problems arose Monday near the campgrounds and heavy rains on Tuesday put a major damper on activities and attendance for much of the day.

“We’ve had more campers this year than we’ve had in the past so we’ve had to balance out our load. We had to move some campers around, try to get everything to where everybody’s happy, they got power, they got air — everything’s back up and running,” Shepherd said.

He said that food vendors and midway rides also rely on larger electrical demands.

The fairgrounds doesn’t own any backup generators, but was able to use one provided by the midway for some of the campers, he said.

“We don’t have enough power on the grounds to run everything,” he said.

Shepherd said he believed changes made earlier in the week with electrical distribution will get them through this year’s fair, but long-term improvements are needed.

“There are some things we’ll have to change for next year,” he said.

Sunny skies on Wednesday set the stage for a sizeable turnout, buffeted by the always-popular free monster truck show in the grandstand.

The midway was also crowded as fair-goers embraced the new ticketing system that relies on a kiosk rather than sales at each ride.

By 7 p.m., a long line assembled for tickets to the fairgrounds ahead of the second of two monster truck shows.

The fair continues today with a forecast calling for a high of 80, sunny skies and a slight chance of pop-up showers.

Tonight’s main attraction at the grandstand is the KOI Drag races. As always, events in the grandstand are free.