Children laugh and scream as their parents take pictures of them on a ride Thursday at the Sherburne County Fair.
Jul 21, 2012
ELK RIVER — The Sherburne County Fair has had more than its share of bad luck in recent years, including severe storms and sweltering heat that kept many people away.
But fair board president Lori Sowers hasn’t given up. She hopes this year will mark a turning point for the fair, which lost money and volunteers in recent years.
Volunteers planted shrubs and flowers to make the fairgrounds feel garden-like. To draw younger visitors, the fair added new events including a butterfly house and donkey races.
“We never can control Mother Nature,” Sowers said last week before the start of this year’s fair, which ends today.
“We can always hope, and we do a lot of praying.”
County fairs are looking for ways to keep attracting visitors despite mounting challenges. Those include the economic downturn, which reduced people’s spending money and available time for volunteering, fair officials say.
There’s also increased competition for people’s time and entertainment dollars. And in some cases, the funding fairs receive from their supporting counties has been reduced or even eliminated.
“Statewide, some are doing reasonably well ... and some are struggling,” said Byron Anderson, president of the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs.