Madison County Fair Association board members are praying for good weather and an enthusiastic crowd at this year’s event, which is considered one of the highlights of the year for local youth, rodeo competitors and agricultural professionals.
The event is set for March 17-26. A full schedule of events is available at mcfa.net.
Mike Dutton, an MCFA board member who helps to manage the fairgrounds, noted that the rodeo arena is not covered, which usually creates a weather concern.
“We had a lot of rain last year and it was really nasty,” he said. “Once we enter contracts, we assess with the CPRA and stock contractor how to proceed. If it’s just nastiness and mud, we’re going to have a rodeo.”
It’s when conditions pose a safety issue for contestants and animals that they have to re-evaluate, he explained, adding that organizers will continue to keep an eye on the weather in the days leading up to the events.
Dutton noted that the board does not anticipate a “huge amount of ticket sales,” although up to 300 people usually attend the rodeo events.
“That’s not where we’re trying to make our money,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of good businesses that sponsor basically the entire fair. They could probably spend less money and get a sign somewhere else but they spend more money with us because of the reputation we have as a fair. The businesses are how we get our operating funds.”
When a student sells an animal, the child gets 92 percent of the proceeds and the fair gets 8 percent.
“It keeps the lights burning but it’s not enough to expand the fair,” Dutton said. “We appreciate the businesses and their support. That’s what allows us to make improvements.”
Several buyers also will make a purchase then donate it back. They also have an option to donate to a separate fund for rodeo grounds improvement. Proceeds from a barrel race – a new event this year – also will be donated to that fund. The race is set for this Saturday, March 12, with practice runs from 9 a.m. to noon followed by competition runs in which racers will be competing for prize money. There is no admission fee for the public.
“We’re excited about that,” Dutton said. “We’re hoping we can get a good turnout and good weather.”
While they focus on helping the kids, the MCFA board members keep in mind that the rodeo is a big revenue generator and try not to neglect the needs for upgrades that will keep the rodeo running consistently, Dutton said. This year, the board opted to prioritize a $20,000 expansion to the heifer barn because there was an influx of entries and not enough space.
“We’re a nonprofit so we don’t have a big bankroll,” Dutton said. “It’s a balancing act to try to get the biggest bang for your buck.”
MCFA board members are operating the concession stand this year rather than contracting with a vendor in order to save money for the association.
“Community involvement is a big thing and a reason why so many of us volunteer,” Dutton said. “We have a really good group that strives to make this a good show because they see what the kids get out of it. [Former Judge] Art Henson once said that he was less likely to see people in his courtroom who have come up through the fair association. These kids know the value of hard work. It’s character building.”
2016 Schedule of Events
Saturday, March 12, 2016 – F a.m.ily & Consumer Science Show
9-10 a.m. Check in Projects
10:30 a.m. Judge Projects
(FCS Building will be closed for judging)
3-4 p.m. Check out Projects
Thursday, March 17, 2016
6:30 p.m. Opening Ceremonies & Fair Dedication, Family & Consumer Science and Art Auction
Friday & Saturday, March 18-19, 2016
7 p.m. MCFA Rodeo
Saturday, March 19, 2016
8 a.m. Check in Market Broilers.
Chicken exhibitors need to pick up registration packet and turn in drug forms and record books upon arrival.
8:30 a.m. Judge Market Broilers
4:30 p.m. Domestic Pet Show and Pedal Tractor Races followed by
Chicken Scramble (for children up to 4 yrs) sponsored by Standley Feed & Seed
Sunday, March 20, 2016
1 p.m. Set up day
Monday, March 21, 2016
8-10 a.m. Check in Goats and Lambs
Goat & Lamb exhibitors need to pick up registration packet and turn in drug forms and record books upon arrival.
10 a.m. Official Weigh-in Goats & Lambs
5 p.m. Judge Goats
7 p.m. or after Goat Show, Judge Lambs
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
8-10 a.m. Check in Cattle and Swine
Cattle & Swine exhibitors need to pick up registration packet and turn in drug forms and record books upon arrival.
11 a.m. Official Weigh-In Swine
12:30 p.m. Official Weigh-in Halter Heifers
1 p.m. Official Weigh-in Steers
2 p.m. Penned Heifer Showmanship interviews
6 p.m. Judge Penned Heifers
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
7:45 a.m. Check in Rabbits.
Rabbit exhibitors need to pick up registration packet and turn in drug forms and record books upon arrival.
8:30 a.m. Judge Rabbits
11 a.m. Check in Ag Mechanic Projects
Noon Judge Ag Mechanic Projects
6 p.m. Judge Market Swine
Followed by Pee Wee Pig Show (open to Clover Kids, students Pre-K to 2nd grade)
Thursday, March 24, 2016
4 p.m. Judge Purebred Heifers
5 p.m. Judge Halter Heifers
7 p.m. or after Halter Heifer Show, Judge Market Steers
Friday, March 25, 2016
10 a.m. Setup for Premium Auction and Buyers Dinner
5 p.m. Buyers Dinner
7 p.m. Premium Auction Sale & Presentation of Awards
Saturday, March 26, 2016
10 a.m. Freezer & Scholarship Sale
Noon Removal of all livestock and clean-up