The North Bend Eagle



Bare-bones fair still provides competition

by Nathan Arneal
Published 8/5/20

It was the middle of the Dodge County Fair, but the fairgrounds in Scribner looked deserted.
The parking lot was nearly empty. There were no rides, no food trucks. A hot breeze stirred up dust in the deserted petting barn.

DCF judgingA masked judge inspects Addison Buresh's sheep show entry.

But if you knew where to look – the competition ring – you found something approaching normal fair life. There were kids in red T-shirts, grooming brushes poking out of their back pockets, parading animals while directing frozen smiles toward a masked judge.

During a summer of postponements in the year of cancellations, the Dodge County Fair found a way to go on, with modifications to fit within the COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was pretty different,” 13-year-old 4-Her Kylin Swanson said, “because you’re used to the whole carnival and all the noise. It was pretty quiet.”

There was a time this spring when the fair was almost canceled, said D.J. Mottl, a member of the fair board and an NBC teacher and FFA sponsor.

“We decided to have if for the kids,” Mottl said. “As we talked through it, we really wanted to give those kids the opportunity to showcase the things they’ve been working on all spring and summer, and have a chance to bring them out and show the county what they can do.”

While the carnival and entertainment events were canceled, the animal shows went on. The public was not invited, but participants were given four tickets so family and friends could watch, though spectators had to bring their own chairs.

The Saunders County Fair took a different approach, canceling a few high-contact events such as the rodeo and hay hauling contest, but most of the fair went on as scheduled. That included a 38 Special concert Friday night, which was moved to a parking area to allow for more space.

Participation in the Dodge County animal shows was down slightly, Mottl said, but for the most part it was business as usual in the show ring.

“A lot of the feel is different because at the end of the show you go home rather than let’s go have a burger or let’s go ride the Ferris wheel,” Mottl said. “In that regard, it’s the same during the day, but the evening events are much missed.”



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