Deanna Scheuer, of Bryan, said she and her family — husband Ian and their children Mason, 5, and Addilynn, 4 — come to the Williams County Fair every year. So they would have come anyway. But being able to get in free on Thursday was a bonus, she said with a laugh as she, Ian, Mason and Addilynn stopped to pet some of the Williams County Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol horses at the Draft Horse Barn.
Free admission Thursday was courtesy of the county commodity groups — the Williams County Beef, Pork and Dairy Producers — who together chipped in $6,000 to offset the day’s admission receipts and let everyone in for free.
It’s the second year the commodity groups have stepped in to provide free admission and it’s definitely welcomed by the fair board, said board vice-president Alan Bennett.
“It’s very generous. This is the second year they’ve stepped up to do this. We appreciate the commodity groups doing this again,” Bennet said earlier this year.
Joe Bok, vice president of the county beef producers group, said the fair board asked the commodity groups to partner with them on a free day.
“We said we’d chip in and hopefully it would draw more people to the fair, Bok said Thursday as he manned the beef producers food stand.
“Everything we net goes back into the 4H sale of champions on Saturday anyway, so if (fair) attendance is up, our revenue is up, and that means more that we can give back to the 4-H,” Bok said.
Gene Andres, treasurer of the county pork producers, agreed. “We help out the 4-H. We’ve helped out (financially) with the new goat barn and we’ve helped with a lot of the buildings on the fairgrounds. We’ll give out six scholarships this year and we assist the United Way, so what we make we distribute out to the community,” Andres said Thursday as Rusty Goebel loaded link sausage onto the grill behind the pork producers food stand.
Andres said as many as 225 people help man the pork producers stand for the eight days of the fair, and they go through about 42,00 pounds of pork sausage, bratwurst, barbecued pulled pork and pork loin.
At the popular donut stand underneath the grandstands Thursday afternoon, Carma Moody used powered brown sugar to top dozens of donuts that come out of the fryer hourly. It was a family affair as Moody and Ann and Robert Day of Holiday City, and Virginia and Robert Lockhart, are all related and all had jobs behind the counter making donuts.
At Rick Kilgore’s food stand, Mercedez Lloyd, of Montpelier, said she visits the fair every year for a bloomin’ onion. Kilgore said he uses Sweet Colossal onion for his rings and bloomin’ onions, which are only grown in Texas and New Mexico.
“I only use the best. They’re sweet, there’s not a hot spot on them,” said Kilgore, who’s from Mansfield and has been a vendor at the Williams County Fair for the past 15 years.
Lloyd said she didn’t know she could get in for free, so that was an added bonus.
But Hannah Arnos, who came Thursday with her four-year-old, Annabelle, and Hazel, 18 months, knew Thursday was a free admission day. her husband, Matt, is the advisor for the Stryker Future Farmers of America.
“We come every year. We love (the fair),” Arnos said with a laugh.
There is second free general admission day, on the final day of the fair, this Saturday, Sept. 15, thanks to a donation from the Montpelier Eagles, plus anticipated revenues from the fair board from the new “premium parking” that is available east of the track.