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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

74th Highlands County Fair opens Friday
Takes lots of hard work
Ray Ray Burnett, left, and Tim Rahfeldt replace dead lightbulbs on the Flying Tigers ride while getting the ride ready for the Highlands County Fair on Tuesday morning. The fair begins on Friday at Sebring's Firemen's Field.
By JOE SEELIG, Highlands Today, Feb.9, 2011
SEBRING - The mid-way on the Highlands County Fairgrounds was bustling with activity Tuesday as workers and concessionaires with Reithoffer Shows put the finishing touches on amusement rides, games and concessions for opening day on Friday.
In its 74th year, the Highlands County Fair at Firemen's Field is one of the big annual events to hit Sebring, from 5 p.m. Feb. 11 through Feb. 19, attracting fairgoers from around the county and probably beyond.
Admission is $6 per day. Kids age 10 and younger get in for free. Armbands for unlimited rides are $20 per day.

Ruth Donnelly scrubs dirt from one of the ride vehicles on the Kite Flyer ride that she was cleaning to get ready for the Highlands County Fair on Tuesday.

This will be the first year the Highlands County Fair Association puts its air-conditioned convention center building to use for the fair. Half of the building will be used for exhibitor booths, said Tenille Drury, marketing and sales director for the center.
"Everyone at the main entrance will come in through the building," she said. "And the pageants will be in the other half. The cooking contest will be in the building as well (in the pageant section)."
Pageants begin at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 with the Jr. Miss Highlands County contest. The Miss Highlands County competition will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12.
The Little Miss Highlands County contestants will have their turn at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 14 on Valentine's Day.

Korie Capitanio pins a stuffed animal to the wall in one of the fair game stands while helping set up the stand on Tuesday. Capitanio is from Lake Placid and works some of the fairs around the state each year, following in the foot steps of her mom and stepfather who worked in fairs when she was a kid.
There will be cooking contests from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, for appetizers, entrées, desserts and a junior division, said Barbara Mishoe, office manager.
The main stage will be set up outside of the building, as it was last year. Check schedules for your favorite entertainment.
Working at the fair
It takes about 100 workers to get the rides up and running. Electrician Ron Wallace said they started to set up Saturday afternoon.
"I'm the one who has the bad habit of keeping them running," he said.

George Brooks helps install a row of lights on a ride while setting up the ride for the Highlands County Fair on Tuesday. The fair will be open on Friday and will be open daily through Saturday, Feb. 19.

Korie Capitanio, 28, of Lake Placid, said she works for the local Reithoffer Shows each year.
"The first year I did it I asked, 'Who do I need to talk to to work for you guys?'" Capitanio said as she helped scrub down a canvas canopy for one of the games. "My (mom and step-dad) growing up always worked for the fairs."
So it was in her blood.
"I worked with my mom (with another fair) since I've been able to carry stock and count; so, about 20 years," she said.
She traveled with this fair to Fort Myers, but never left the state with them when they headed north in the spring and summer.
"I'm thinking about going with the show this year to Naples," she said. "If not Naples, I will be with the show in Fort Myers. I love it. I get to see the people, the little kids. You should see their faces."
Each year Capitanio calls Shannon Kirkpatrick and Paul Smith, who contract concessions with Reithoffer Shows, to get some extra work.
Kirkpatrick said all employees are drug tested, for everyone's safety. They have a zero tolerance policy. The show starts in Sebring and is on the move every two weeks until November.
Kirkpatrick, Capitanio and two other ladies were stocking the balloon game booth with lots of colorful stuffed animals. Kirkpatrick said she clears out her stock at each fair.
"Everybody's a winner," she said. "The more (balloons) you pop the bigger the prize."

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