MORRISON, Ill. — The Whiteside County Fair kicked off Tuesday in Morrison after farmers arrived with their livestock and carnival vendors opened their food stands.
Although many features have stayed the same, guests at the 2013 fair may notice a few improvements made from last year.
Whiteside County Fair Director of Publicity Todd Mickley said the fair board and other volunteers worked tirelessly, putting in more than 500 hours, painting, repairing and restoring the fairgrounds and the structures located there.
"A lot of changes have been made this year," Mickley said. "But we've got to be doing new things every year to keep the excitement of the fair going."
One of the changes that Mickley feels will be most noticeable is the removal of an old barn that used to stand in the middle of the fairgrounds.
"We took down the old, red barn because it used to block the round barn and we wanted to open that space up," said Mickley, adding that a new shed was built for additional storage for fair equipment.
Other improvements made to the fairgrounds may not have been be as easy as the removal of the red barn.
The grounds' livestock sheds received a complete makeover during the fair's offseason. Those improvements included new doors, a fresh coat of paint and new lighting to brighten the livestock chambers.
"The majority of the work was all done by volunteers. We are a team," Mickley said. "It's amazing to see the maturity of the fairgrounds after so many years."
Another improvement Mickley mentioned was a revamp of the 2013 schedule of events. To keep things fresh and new at the fair, the board decided to enhance a few old events and introduce a couple new ones to draw bigger crowds through the week.
One specific upgrade is the addition of three LogHogger chainsaw artists competing every day at the fair.
"Typically we have one LogHogger every year, but this year we have three competing against each other," Mickley said. "They will get points for different carvings and then we will auction off the sculptures on Saturday."
Mickley and other members of the board are excited for the new attractions to be featured at the fair, and the Hell Drivers Thrill Show is on the top of that list.
"The thrill show will be an exciting addition this year. I think people will really enjoy it," Mickley said.
For Mickley though, the grandstand events come second to interacting with returning guests and seeing everyone enjoying the carnival and other aspects of the fair.
"The fair is really a grand finale before school starts, so it's nice to see kids and families out here enjoying themselves," Mickley said. "The fair board works so hard every year; it is really nice to see it all come together."
The Whiteside County Fair continues through Saturday, with schedules available at the grounds in Morrison or online at whitesidecountyfair.org.