Finding Fairadise; a day of Ferris wheels, fun; STGNews Photo Gallery

HURRICANE – The Washington County Fair is in full swing and the fairgrounds are alive with the sights and sounds of summer’s end ushering in one last fling before pencils and books replace sunscreen and endless nights. The scents of candied apples and juicy ribs mix with livestock manure and dust and a cacophony of country songs rise into the air – a synesthesia for the nostalgic soul.

The Ferris wheel, one of the carnivals most iconic staples stands at the entrance of the City of Fun Carnival at the Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
The Ferris wheel, one of the carnivals most iconic staples stands at the entrance of the City of Fun Carnival at the Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The county fair, a timeless piece of Americana, had its beginnings in the early 19th century as a way to promote modern farming techniques, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago website. Early fairs were characterized by livestock competitions, displays of the latest and greatest agricultural devices and contests that showcased a farmer’s prowess behind a plow.

As the popularity of fairs grew they came to include mechanical inventions, pyrotechnic displays, bikes, balloons, horse racing and fast cars.

Today’s fairs contain a mix of the old – livestock and agricultural competitions remain a steady part – and the new, with faster thrill rides, demolition derbies and social media all playing their part in the modern carnival of fun.

The theme for the 2014 Washington County Fair is “Fairadise” and that theme is immediately visible as attendees are greeted by a field of giant blow-up water toys inviting guests to cool off from the heat in an oasis of fun.

Water balls in a pool are stationed at the entrance and adults and children alike climbed into the clear plastic orbs and flipped and floated about.

Patrons entered the grounds under a large welcoming arch and headed to a world of fun, food and furry friends.

Bob Steele and his bears from The Great Bear Show – the longest running wild animal education show in the country, Steele said – came to the fair to put on an educational show that displays the bears’ skills as well as instructs the audience about the bears and their history.

The Great Bear Show travels around educating the public on bears and perform daily at the Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
The Great Bear Show travels around educating the public on bears and perform daily at the Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

“A lot of the public goes out into the wilderness areas and they are not bear aware at all,” Steele said, “so we try to show their intelligence, their skill and inform them a little bit about bears.”

The show, which plays daily throughout the fair, is free to the public and not only entertains the crowd but educates them on the current bear population, how human encroachment affects them and what The Great Bear Show is doing to help orphaned cubs, Steele said.

Bears aren’t the only animals showcased at the fair, livestock is on full display, pony rides are available and fluffy bunnies make an adorable appearance.

A petting zoo is available to entertain the family and is operated as a fundraiser by the Future Farmers of America.

Group member, McKayla Redfearn of Snow Canyon High School, operated the goat petting area to help her chapter of the future farmers earn money for various activities the group wants to do, she said.

Animals on display were all raised by members of the group and Redfearn entered her own goat into the goat show competition and came away with two first place ribbons, she said.

An entire building was dedicated to vendors where various political candidates could solicit a vote, local businesses could entice new customers and many groups and associations could have an audience with the public to share their message.

Notable among the groups were a free children’s building workshop sponsored by the Home Depot and the U.S. Forest Service where a giant stuffed likeness of the famous fire prevention bear, Smokey, stood sentry.

Colin Wetzel gets a driving lesson from Matt Wetzel as he drives his way to a win in the 14 and under division, Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News
Colin Wetzel gets a driving lesson from Matt Wetzel as he drives his way to a win in the 14 and under division, Washington County Fair, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News

Smokey will celebrate his 70th birthday on Saturday marking 70 years of prowling, growling and sniffing the air, all in an effort to help the public be more fire conscious in the wilderness.

Games, contest entries and candy filled the building but the real fun happened just outside at the Carnival of Fun.

The Carnival of Fun is a family owned and operated carnival based in Pleasant Grove that travels to different counties in Utah, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico providing games of skill, sugary food and thrilling rides to an adoring public.

Natasha Bissegger is the granddaughter of the carnival owner and is part of several generations of family members who work and travel with the carnival.

For Bissegger, her favorite part of the carnival life is meeting the people at each fair, she said.

Bissegger had the inside track on everything from how many candied apples are sold each day at the fair – up to 500 in a given day – and what rides are the most popular: the zipper and the Ferris wheel, she said.

The Ferris wheel was invented by George W. Ferris, a bridge builder, for the 1893 World’s Fair. The original ride cost 50 cents and was considered an engineering marvel.

Today, the Ferris wheel is a staple at fairs and amusement parks all over and stands as a welcoming symbol of summer fun.

The evening ended with mayhem as crowds were treated to a little bit of down and dirty derby in the arena.

Little goats on display at the Washington County Fair petting zoo, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Little goats on display at the Washington County Fair petting zoo, Hurricane, Utah, August 8, 2014 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Fairadise continues Saturday with eating contests, more music and mayhem and a fireworks show to top it all off.

So whatever your pleasure, be it bears or bunnies or bashing cars, there is a little something for everyone at the county fair.

Perhaps E.B. White – author of the children’s classic “Charlotte’s Web” – described the iconic fair best when the old sheep said to the greedy rat, Templeton; “Go to the fair Templeton. You will find that the conditions at the fair will surpass your wildest dreams.”

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Resources

For more information about the county fair, including a schedule of events click here

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Email: hreina@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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