Representatives of Sheridan County's 4-H and FFA chapters are moving into the county fairgrounds office this week in preparation for the 2013 Sheridan County Fair. Activities start Wednesday, with Thursday being the official opening day of the annual event.
Fairgrounds Manager Jamie Ringley and his crew have been preparing for months.
“Everything we do,” Ringley said this week, “everything we paint, spruce up, set up … The ultimate part of our season (the Sheridan County Fair) is in mind.”
The fairgrounds as of Tuesday morning were almost ready for the start of this year's event, with only a few last-minute details remaining: banners to be hung, the open beef exhibit pens to be tilled, the pavilion cleaned for the upcoming goat and alpaca shows, finishing touches added in the rabbit/poultry shed.
The fairgrounds crew – including five full-time and two part-time seasonal employees, and a RENEW client who works two hours a day five days a week – will also set up tents for Saturday's breakfast for 4-H and FFA members and their families and Monday's buyer's dinner.
It will just be the latest in an ongoing round of activities that includes everything from picking up garbage to cleaning out the pens and other facilities on the grounds, to reconfiguring the north pens and infield to make the facilities more user-friendly, to improving the water system on the fairgrounds' eastern half to reduce water pressure problems.
Work has also included buying 20 new cages to accommodate a jump in the number of entries in this year's rabbit classes – from around 40 bunnies in prior years to 64 or 65 for the show on Friday. “We've moved from the old rabbit shed into the other half of Eatons' Barn (site of the poultry exhibits)” to accommodate the increased numbers, Ringley said.
But efforts aren't confined just to the facilities. Ringley and his staff prepare the fair books – this year produced by Sheridan Media – and Ringley has regular meetings with representatives of the 4-H and FFA, the University of Wyoming Extension office in Sheridan County and the supervisors of the fair's open classes.
The goal of those meetings, he said, are to ensure that “we'll all be on the same page.”
During the fair, Ringley and the fairgrounds staff will be on call to set up sound systems, help with seating and tables for the breakfast and dinner and, in general, “Make sure that everyone has everything they need. Everything is very hands-on.”
Ringley has only praise for his staff. “They're excellent,” he said. “They're young, energetic, and they work super-hard. They see things that need to be done, and they do it.”
Fair activities start Wednesday at 6 p.m. with the annual Fashion Review and 4-H/FFA static awards in the Exhibit Hall. Official opening day of the fair is Thursday, beginning with the opening of the Exhibit Hall at 9 a.m., and the annual event continues through Monday with the annual Market Livestock Sale at 6 p.m in the sale arena.
The fair is free to the public – including Thursday's two special shows, Match Bronc Riding in Arena 1 starting at 7 p.m., and the Teka Brock Band at 8:30 p.m. on the Exhibit Hall lawn.
“We're very excited about the opening night events,” Ringley said. “We aim to get as many people as possible, kind of jump into the fair, and things will flow after that.”