WAHOO – As summer continues to heat up, all eyes to the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo.

This year’s fair runs Sunday, July 28 through Sunday, Aug. 4. Fair officials are excited and ready to go.

“We are excited in 2019 because we are taking what we have heard from folks and making improvements to the county fair,” Saunders County Agricultural Society Vice President Theresa Klein said.

Some of those changes and improvements made for this year’s fair will be noticeable, while others may be more subtle. But she said the hope is that they will all add to the enjoyment of the fair.

“If you live in Saunders County, this is your county fair,” she added. “Please come and see what our young folks in 4-H and FFA have been working on and have fun with your friends and neighbors.”

The fun gets started on Sunday with the regular kick off activities of the 4-H archery competition and the skill food and fashion contests in the 4-H Building.

One of the big changes to the fair schedule this year is that the demo derby will also be a part of the first day activities.

Saunders County Agricultural Society President Kris Kavan reported having the derby on its traditional last Sunday of the fair was going to be a challenge this year. The derby officials, as well as many of the drivers, would have schedule conflicts with other derbies taking place Aug. 4.

So, the decision was made to move the Saunders County Fair Demo Derby to this Sunday.

Kavan said he said multiple benefits from the change. The final Sunday of the fair is a big day for 4-H kids and their exhibits and by eliminating the derby it shifts the focus entirely on 4-H, he said.

Klein said the move also means that the momentum at that end of the fairgrounds doesn’t diminish at the start of fair week.

“Right after you end a great rodeo, you come back and smash some cars,” she said.

Some of the changes to the fairgrounds this year include more trees. Thanks to help from reTree Nebraska, about 20 trees were planted throughout the fairgrounds.

Klein said those trees may not be too tall on shade yet this year, but they will make a big difference in years to come. This project will help when some Ash trees on the fairgrounds will have to be taken down.

“And, overall, it just helps to beautify the fairgrounds,” she added.

Those exhibiting and watching livestock shows in the Hattan Pavilion should also notice new show rings. She said these should help the show day flow and safety of exhibitors, animals and bystanders alike.

“It should just be easier for the 4-Hers and their animals to move around,” Klein added.

Also new to the fairgrounds this year is an ATM.

Saunders County Agricultural Society Board Member Jordon Kavan said it will be located next to the ticket booth at the rodeo arena.

He said this was something that has been requested at previous fairs and rodeos.

After looking several options, the Ag Society opted to purchase a machine over renting one.

“It’s still an investment,” Kavan added. “But, it should prove itself to be beneficial.”

Another investment the Ag Society has been making at the fairgrounds is Wi-Fi. Last year, a lot of the technology was put into place so the office in the Hattan Pavilion had Wi-Fi access.

This year, there has been an expansion and public access will be available in the 4-H building.

One of the things that won’t change this year is strong participation by 4-Hers and their families.

Saunders County Extension Educator Cole Meador reported that there are 557 youth enrolled in 4-H in Saunders County.

Not all 4-H divisions are required to pre-enter before the fair, but those that do are again looking at strong numbers.

Market Beef pre-entries are up over last year. Pre-entry numbers last year were 63, and 50 market beef entries were brought to the fair. This year, there are 73 entries. That is the most since 2011, when 77 were pre-entered.

Feeder calf and bucket calf pre-entries are up just a couple over last year. Breeding beef pre-entries are down by two from last year, but this year’s 62 is still up from 2017’s 58 and 2016’s 47.

Sheep numbers are expected to be up as well. The pre-entry number was 61. That compares to last year’s 55 pre-entry and 44 actually shown.

Poultry re-entries stood at 119. That is up from last year’s 96 pre-entries but less than 2017’s 149 pre-entries.

Rabbit numbers could multiply this year too. Last year, there were 48 pre-entries and 46 rabbits shown. That was more than the previous three years.

This year’s pre-entries return to pre-2014 levels. There were 76 rabbits pre-entered.

Swine numbers, however, continue to steadily decrease. Pre-entries this year numbered 125. That number has decreased every year since 2010, when there were 307 entries.

Other pre-entry numbers for 4-H remained fairly steady.

Other activities at the fair again include the Figure 8 Race and fair parade next Thursday evening, the Dylan Scott concert Friday, Aug. 2 and the tractor and truck pulls Saturday, Aug. 3.

The Saunders County Amusement Association will turn on its rides this Friday and Saturday. The full carnival, with rides and games runs Tuesday, July 30 through Saturday, July 3.

For a full schedule of events, turn to this week’s

special fair and rodeo special section.

Klein said the upcoming 11 big days at the fairgrounds really does offer something for everyone.

“It’s a great time to have people come visit you too because you can invite them to come down to the fairgrounds and there is something for everybody to do,” she added.

Entry to the fairgrounds is free. Ticket sales for the Dylan Scott concert continue at the fair’s website, www.saunderscountyfair.com. Motor sport event tickets may be purchased at the gate the day of the shows.

More information about the fair and the open class entry book/entry forms are also available on the website.

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