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110th annual Sebastian County fair boasts improvements, changes

With rides, food, and livestock shows, the Sebastian County Fair kicked off on Wednesday for its 110th year.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The 110th annual Sebastian County Fair & Rodeo kicked off Wednesday in Greenwood, Arkansas.

Before beginning fair events, the Sebastian County Fair Association honored retired Sebastian County Judge David Hudson. Association President Randy Mitchell explained that the county helps connect them to the county fair system, leading to the state fair.

"It makes us a legitimate stepping stone for these kids to go on and show at other events. The county has been a very good partner with us ... They support us financially, and they also would help us with some projects around the fairgrounds," Mitchell said.

"I get to show off the hard work that I've done over the summer with her, compete with others, see how well we actually do, and it'll give me a chance to critique on stuff that we need to work on before other shows and a chance to hang around with the community here," Participant Kay Copeland said.

"This County fair is really the beginning of my show season, I still have to go to the state fair and do all that," Participant Drake Slate said.

The Jr. Livestock show started shortly after at 8 a.m. The show is free to the public.

Opening night admission is $1, with all of the gate proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Smith. $25 armbands are available for the carnival which opens at 5 p.m.

Heat has had an impact on the schedule of the fair. Previously planned was a School Days event on Thursday and Friday for students to visit. Last year the fair had 1,100 children attend.

"We decided that we're gonna release our livestock, and we'll just put the school days on hold til next year for everybody's safety, whether it's the kids or the animals, we have to be cognizant of that," Mitchell said. "We have a senior citizens brunch on Saturday that we've had to cancel this year as well because it's just so hot. It's an outdoor event, and we know that some of the seniors that come are kind of in a fragile state with health issues, and we didn't want to jeopardize anybody."

Friday night will kick off two days of rodeo.  Bulls and Broncs will battle the athletes on Friday Night, and Saturday night will feature Mutton Busting and a Ranch Rodeo.

Since its inception in 1913, the county fair has been a volunteer-led organization. Mitchell said, "We just have the honor of being able to carry on the tradition and build upon the foundation that they've set for our fare."

Continuing their support of young agri-leaders, the county fair also allows students to participate in a junior fair board.

"We believe in helping to teach the kids what it means to volunteer and give back as a board. That's what we do. So we started that a few years ago. And each year we allow them to set the tone for the fair and pick a theme. And this year, they wanted it to be a tropical paradise. So we're going to be out here in our Hawaiian shirts and celebrate with the kids and this is their time to shine," Mitchell said.

Laney Slate explained that this year is her ninth and final year to show at the Sebastian County Livestock Show. She is also on the Junior Fair Board.

"Throughout all this time that we've spent pouring into our projects, we learned hard work and determination might pay off in the end, even if you can spend all summer working and your animals get last place it's still fun to see. You're gonna learn a lot of life lessons that you can carry on with you in the future," Slate said.

Saturday night is the livestock auction with the auction dinner starting at 5 p.m. The auction itself begins at 6 p.m. Slate explained that "All donations of premium or purchase of actual animals are going to be tax-deductible. So feel free to come out and support your local kids."

"That's really their Super Bowl. That's where we have people from throughout the county come and help financially support these kids to carry on with their projects. On to the next fairs," Mitchell added.

Johnson Brothers Carnival will return with rides and games for all to enjoy. Mitchell was especially excited about the Ferris Wheel returning to the carnival rides. Vendors will be set up to sell unique items and the food trucks will have plenty of food to enjoy. Visitors can also stop by the exhibition hall to view the creative entries from around the county.

They’ve added a category called AG Mechanics where kids in technical fields can build trailers or even refurbish tractors for competition.

Mitchell explained how a lot of times kids go to Oklahoma and other states to buy their livestock, but this year will be the first year there is a category with an Arkansas requirement.

According to a press release, there will be live music every day of the fair. For more information and discount tickets you can visit www.sebastiancountyfair.com

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