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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fair president: 'Best fair ever'

Eric Quiel, left, and Dustin Ridenour, groundskeepers for Highlands County, remove one of the exhibits from the Highlands County Fair on Monday morning.

By JOE SEELIG
Highlands Today
February 22, 2011
SEBRING - Attendance was just up at the 2011 Highlands County Fair that was the "best fair ever," according to George White, president of the Highlands County Fair Association.
He felt it could be a sign that the economy is improving.
"Our attendance was up," he said. "We had better rides this year. We had very few complaints. I think from one end to the other it was very successful. The entertainment was good, livestock was wonderful; it went real smooth."
Last year's attendance was about 38,000 people. This year's number was 39,351.
The Highlands County Cattlewomen's Association and Cattlemen's Association fed 350 in the newly built Highlands County Fair Convention Center for the buyers' dinner, he said.
"We've contracted the Reithoffer Shows for (the next) five years, so they're going to be our fair provider. That's all the fair; all the rides, all the midway.
White gave a lot of credit for the fair's success to the people behind the scenes, in the office, volunteers, the Highlands County Fair Association board, the Sebring Firemen, etc.
"We don't start preparing the week of the fair," he said. "We start months ahead of time, getting our entertainment, getting our chainsaw guy…
"We've already signed our chainsaw guy for next year, which is our 75th. The date will be Feb. 10 through the 18, for 2012.
White was happy with everything.
"The livestock sale, the animal prices were good," he said. "The buyer's dinner went over really well. A lot of fairs don't do as well as we do on livestock."
He credited the Jr. Livestock Committee, especially Mark Bryan, committee chairman.
"They put in a ton of hours," he said. "I won't say we couldn't do it without them, but I sure wouldn't want to try to."
The hospitality room was also a great success, providing a place for people to sit down and have some refreshments. The Strawberry Shack did well in support of Project Graduation.
Use of the convention center was also a big plus. The Miss Highlands, Jr. Miss Highlands and Little Miss Highlands pageants were all well attended.
The sound in the convention remains a work-in-progress, he said.
"We still have quite a bit more sound board to put up," he said, adding they spent about $33,000 on the speakers and sound system for the building. The problem is not with the system, it is with the acoustics due to the large size of the building.
They are working with their consultant and the work on the acoustics is being tackled in stages.
Everybody going out the gate was happy, said Michael Knott, with the fair's board of directors.

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