While Carl Buehrer, president of the Fulton County Fair Board, was making fi- nal preparations for the annual fair last week, he took time to tell a story.
A few years ago, an older man was near gate K, on the southwest side of the fairgrounds, reporting that his car was stolen.
Buehrer said, “I don’t think so,” but the man insisted he had parked his car near gate K, and the vehicle had been stolen.
Buehrer said he contacted a Fulton County Sheriff Department deputy on a golf cart.
With a wink to Buehrer, the deputy suggested the three of them look around the parking area for the missing auto.
The man protested, saying he had parked near gate K, but the deputy talked him into looking for it.
They found the car parked near gate C, on the north side of the fairgrounds.
“Somebody stole my car and moved it over here!” the man insisted.
“We have that happen every once in a while,” the deputy said.
When the Fulton County Fair opens Friday, one of the first changes visitors will notice will be in the parking procedure, Buehrer said.
This year, he said the board has brought in a group of professionals to handle the parking.
“They’re four guys from up between Adrian and Blissfi eld (Mich.,)” he said.
“They’ve parked Michigan International Speedway and other different big venues.
“Their idea is, the quicker they get them off the road the better it will be.”
Once off the highway, the parking crew will direct drivers directly to parking spots, rather than allowing motorists to cruise up and down rows looking for empty spaces.
“It will be a quicker operation,” he said.
Members of the Fulton County Civil Air Patrol chapter will still work in the parking lots, “but under new management,”
In addition, roads in the parking lots have been redone and resurfaced. Some streets within the gates have been redone as well.
Most of the changes won’t be noticed. That’s because of the updating of underground electrical, water, and sewer lines.
“Anything that might be a safety issue, we addressed,” Buehrer said.
Also on the list this year was “a tremendous amount of tree trimming. Any dead branches came down,” he said.
There are changes in the restrooms under the grandstand.
The former men’s restroom at the north end has been closed, and the former women’s restroom on the south side of the grandstand has been updated and repaired for men.
There is a good women’s restroom outside to the south of the grandstand.
Another change applies to the stage shows.
The track will be standing room only.
When a “big act,” such as a nationally famous band or performer comes to the fair, they want fans standing in front of the stage.
The problem that created, Buehrer said, is that people with disabilities were seated on the track. When people would stand, the people with disabilities couldn’t see the show.
This year, they will be moved to risers.
“We’ve a lot of extra work to do, and it’s a new expense, but we know what to do. We’ve studied it, and we’ve got a lot of information on it.”
Exit Rough Trucks
This year, the Rough Trucks show, held on Saturday night, is replaced by a second night of truck pulls.
The fair holds its traditional tractor and truck pulls on Friday night. On Saturday night, pickup trucks, many street-driven, will try to pull the weighted sled.
Buehrer said Rough Trucks were dropped from the schedule because with only one truck on the track at a time, it’s a long, drawnout show. People would leave before the show ended.
Rough Trucks are pickups and sport-utility vehicles bashing their way around an off-road course full of bumps and jumps. Much mechanical mayhem ensues.
When the fair board dropped Rough Trucks, “We saved a bundle of money on liability insurance. Our insurance company wouldn’t cover it; we had to get a separate policy.”
Something For Everyone
“Our goal is to have something for everyone,” said Buehrer.
“We’ve tried to keep our costs where people can afford things. We’re still $5 at the gate, or $15 for an individual pass.
“Some of the shows we put out front, you go see them in the city, you’ll pay $45. Here, you’ll pay $25 or $30. We don’t try to make a big profit, we just try to break even.”
Buehrer said 35 to 40 members of a delegation from the Indiana Fair Association will visit the fair.
“They’ll trail our board members, to see how we do things,” he said.
“We feel it’s a nice compliment. They’ve been to the Iowa State Fair and some of the other big fairs. But this year, they chose to come to our county fair, based on our reputation.”
For more on the Fulton County Fair, see pages 7-10.