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Cool weather a first for county fair

The 164th Ogle County Fair may have set a record for the coolest temperatures ever.

At an event usually noted for the very steamy 90s, this year early mornings and late nights in the low 50s called for long sleeves and maybe even a jacket.

Daytime temperatures reached just to the upper 70s with low humidity. Fair board president Harlan Holm said he couldn’t remember a fair that was overall as cool.

“Thursday night when that cool front came through, it was darn cold. I put a sweatshirt on,” he said with a chuckle.

It was still sweatshirt weather Friday morning when a stiff breeze added another dimension to the chilly temperatures.

“It warmed up fast every day though,” Holm said. “ And I’d rather have it in the 70s than the 90s.”

An estimated 17,000 turned out for fair, which was held Aug. 2-6 at the fairgrounds west of Oregon.

That number is down slightly from last year, Holm said, something he attributed to the forecast on Thursday.

“Our attendance was down Thursday,” he said. “It was sunny but they were calling for rain all day, and I think that kept a lot of people away.”

Friday and Saturday were the fair’s busiest days with large crowds coming to the grandstand shows.

Saturday’s demolition derby was the biggest draw with the Big Hat Rodeo on Friday a close second.

Jon Pearson, President of the Ogle County Beef Association, was happy to be on hand on Saturday selling burgers, brisket, and ribeye steak sandwiches.

“It’s always a good time here,” said Pearson. “I’m a huge fan of the tractor pull, and we have a great time serving our products to the hungry community.”

Ivy Unger, Nelson, said the pigs building is her favorite place at the fair.

“I just love the pigs, and going through the tent really makes me just want to take one home!” Unger said.

The 4-H and Junior Open Shows went on throughout the fair and covered a wide array of topics from the traditional livestock, foods, and clothing to electricity, woodworking, and computer science.

Other fair-goers, like Carrie Beck, Davis Junction, were in love with the cost to enter.

“I love the great price; I can take the whole family, and get unlimited rides,” said Beck. “I would come all weekend if I could.”

The $8 gate admission came with unlimited carnival rides.

The free grounds shows also drew crowds and seating filled up quickly.

Dan Mink, and his family - wife Yvonne, daughter Emilee, and son Anthony - all make up the performing team for the Rhinestone Roper’s Wild West Celebration.

“We always have a blast,” said Dan. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’re always adding a new trick.”

The show included cowboy stunts like the quickdraw and exploding knives, singing, horse tricks with his five-year-old Pinto Quarter Horse, Gypsy Rio, and the “Wheel of Destiny” finale: Dan rotated Yvonne on a large wooden wheel and proceeded to outline her in knives thrown while she spun.

When the spinning stopped, he immediately released two balloons high into the air, which Yvonne shot out with her pistols, all while still upside down.

Holm said volunteers help make the fair go smoothly every year.

“I want to say thank you to our volunteers,” he said. “And I want to thank everyone for coming out for the fair and supporting out youth. That’s why we’re here.”

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