Posted 7/10/13 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
With the arrival of the McKenzie County Fair this week in Watford City, we can pretty much lay to rest the claim that there is never anything to do around McKenzie County. For three straight weekends, this county has been busting with special events - namely, Watford City’s Homefest two weekends ago, which was immediately followed by Arnegard’s 4th of July and Centennial celebrations.
And now this week, it’s Watford City’s turn to get back in the spotlight as the McKenzie County Fair kicks off a three-day run on Thursday.
Call it just another fun-filled week! Because that is what it is going to be with the fair providing three full days of family fun with tons of free shows, youth activities, a youth rodeo, a draft horse competition, as well as the excitement with a Demolition Derby and a NDRA Rodeo.
But what everyone likes most about a county fair (or at least I look forward to) is a carnival and lots of food. And this year, the Fair Board has done a good job of ensuring that both of these needs have been met. Fun Time Carnivals will be back on the Midway again this year with more games and rides than last year and the Fair Board has confirmed that there will be many more food concessions on the fairgrounds.
For many of our new residents, while it’s hard to imagine a fair without a carnival, that is exactly the dilemma that our county fair faced for many years. With the city’s and county’s small populations, no carnival company wanted to make the McKenzie County Fair a stop in their summer circuit. No matter what incentives the Fair Board was able to offer, carnivals believed that they could make more money and have less expenses by setting up in mall parking lots or by restricting their stops to larger cities.
It was the same situation with food booths. Years ago, three to four food booths were all it took to keep everyone happy. And that was especially true when you had one booth serving up an almost seemingly endless supply of homemade pie. But last year’s crowd, quite literally, ate the food booths empty. And when the food runs out, you’ve got pretty unhappy fair-goers.
Like everyone else in McKenzie County, the Fair Board has had a tough job of trying to rapidly grow the fair and making sure that there is something for everyone at the fair. And then hoping and praying that they have enough to take care of the record number of people that are showing up.
Growing the fair to meet a growing community is no easy assignment. But like everywhere else in the county, most of us would rather deal with the challenges and opportunities of growth versus struggling to keep things alive.
So go out and enjoy the fun and entertainment at this year’s McKenzie County Fair. And just know that the fair that you see today is only going to keep getting bigger and better in the coming years.