ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Fair returns this week, promising lasting memories for all who attend. Have you ever wondered how the fair comes together every year? From the famous Demolition Derby to the food and family fun, there is a sense of excitement in all who attend the fair. What most people don’t know is the time, love and dedication everyone – from the board members to all the volunteers – puts into making the fair a successful, fun and entertaining environment.
Social Media Manager, that is my title. This is my first year as part of the fair board, I am thrilled and have learned so much in the last seven months. Almost everyone starts working on the fair in March, some before that. I have enjoyed the fair every year, but this year I get to enjoy it differently. Until I joined the process, I never put much thought into the work that the board did. But now, as I have been updating fair-fans through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Text messaging and even Instagram, I quickly found out that the month before the fair brings many fans to our pages, flooding it with messages and posts wanting information about the fair. I have conducted contests for the fair, distributed prizes and flyers and fair books throughout the county.
I have come to realize that everyone who volunteers time to the fair not only loves the fair but also has a love for our community. I have also learned this is not a one-person job, it’s a family affair. Families help create what the community comes to enjoy, and I am no exception. My husband, Jeremy D. Crawford, dedicates a great deal of time helping me. We are just a small sample of what creates the fair.
It starts with the director of the fair, Wendy Sandberg. Sandberg has dedicated years to helping create what the fair is now. Sandberg started as a board member in 1989, in charge of decorating Hurricane City, and became director of the fair in 1998. She plans, coordinates, organizes, budgets and oversees the annual event. Sandberg begins to work in January, putting in three hours a day. By August, she is working 18 hours a day and basically lives at the fairgrounds.
Sandberg works closely with the information technology team on the website, advertising, social media and communicating and networking with local businesses. You name it; she does it or has some contribution and time into it, from picking the yearly theme to being present and helping with the Miss Washington County Fair pageant.
“The fair is my happy place, I just love it,” Sandberg said, when asked why she dedicated so much to bring the fair together. “It’s the only event in Washington County that brings all the cities together. It’s so awesome to see everyone’s happy faces.”
Everyone loves the food at the fair. Vice Chairman Kelly Kleinman, together with his two daughters, Kristiana Mecham and Kaisa Schmidt, coordinate the food court, Military Day and the free movies at Coral Cliffs Cinema. Kleinman and Mecham started working in September 2011 to make Military Day a special day for all who have served for our freedom. They spend 100-plus hours calling, visiting and checking with various branches of the military and getting the wall of honor together. Kleinman and Schmidt spend many long hours setting up and cleaning the food court. The last night of the fair is Kleinman’s longest, staying there until 2 a.m., waiting for every vendor to be loaded up and gone. The free movie and some of the fireworks that fair-goers are able to enjoy are paid with the earnings they receive from Dixie Direct sales.
“There are many hours spent by many different people on the fair board to make it all come together,” Kleinman said. “What would it be without all the volunteers we have? ”
Below is a YouTube video, Behind the Scenes of the Washington County Fair – Utah, made by the author of this article, Nadia Y. Crawford. Story continues below.
Six months before the fair, Matt Wetzel starts working on putting the Demolition Derby together. Wetzel contacts 40 to 60 drivers and communicates with other derby promoters. Some sponsors give cash, prizes or manpower and equipment. Speaking of manpower, the derby by itself uses approximately 50 volunteers who help 2-3 days; there is also pit security, pit lighting and seating. There are cement blocks, and dirt that has to be prepared for the arena. These are only a few of the things that need to be prepared for the derby.
There is so much fun shopping to do at the fair. Bill Hudson is responsible for the Commercial Booths Exhibit. Together with his family, responsibilities are shared. They start work in March, sending applications to vendors from previous years. Hudson takes a week off of work during the fair, overseeing the operation of the commercial booths and building from open to close every day.
“The fair takes a huge time commitment,” Hudson said, “but we love the fun we have.”
Another highlight of the fair is the Cute Baby Contest; Cami Bohne and Kathy Hurst who put this contest together have been working together for nine years. They get children registered and organize everything from the goody bags to communicating with the finalist and the judges.
This year makes 100 years of the 4-H Club in Utah. This is Paul Hill’s first year on the board, and he and his staff are in charge of the petting zoo, horse show, livestock and 4-H Club exhibits. For the past several months there has been planning and coordinating with people from all over the country for the arrival of livestock for the petting zoo.
Someone needs to keep all these moments in a timeless piece, which is what Chris Caldwell does; this is his second year in the board. He is the photographer for the entire fair. Caldwell takes 10,000 or more pictures of the fair not including all the board members and royalty. He sets up and breaks down and carries about 15 pounds of gear on him; he then spends just as much time editing as he did shooting.
As you can see, there are many hours, volunteers, board members, manpower, time, dedication and passion in working as a team to create the fair that many people wait all year to enjoy. There is so much more that has not been shared – like Shelly Thomas who is in charge of the half-marathon relay and 5k or Jeremy Bird, who is the “creative consultant,” designing and decorating two stages. I could easily highlight so much more about the fair.
Next time you have a moment, I invite you to take a moment over the next four days, take some time to look at all the detail and people that have worked hard to bring you the Washington County Fair.
For more on the Washington County Fair, visit these related articles:
For a full schedule of events visit the Washington County Fair website here.
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