Moultrie-Douglas County Fair: 'The best week in the summer'

Moultrie-Douglas County Fair: 'The best week in the summer'

Maybe it's the pay-one-price carnival rides that bring thousands of people to the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair every year. Or it could be the livestock shows, queen pageants or live entertainment that make people want to come out to the weeklong event. Whatever it is, it all starts Sunday.

"Attending the fair was always a highlight of the summer," said fair Vice President Jim Fleming. "That was back in the 1960s. Today, the fair still remains the best week in the summer for me."

Here are just a few highlights of this year's event, which runs through July 14:

READY, SET, GROW

For decades, the fair has been an event to bring the community closer to its agricultural heritage through the culinary, horticulture and floriculture competition. This year, the fair is bringing a physical aspect to the fun.

For the first time in the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair's history, community volunteers have organized a free Ag Olympics event for participants to earn prizes. The competition starts Sunday at 6 p.m.

"We decided to start something new for people to play silly games like the leaky bucket relay and a balloon toss," Fair President Sandy Hoke said. "We advertised that anyone ages 3 to 103 can participate, but that just means it's open to everybody."

Other events throughout the Olympics include bale stacking, a butter toss, a rubber boot relay and an eating competition.

THE FAIR-EST OF THEM ALL

The 17th annual Junior Miss Pageant kicks off Monday evening at 7 p.m. for girls ages 11-14 before Tuesday's Queen Pageant.

Contestants of the 56th annual Queen Pageant will not only be competing for the county title, but also a $2,000 academic scholarship. The grant must be used in the academic year immediately following the pageant with proof of full-time enrollment. Hoke, who is also the pageant coordinator, said the pageant is one event she looks forward to each year.

"I'm always excited to see what talents are brought to the pageant each year," she said. "I'm curious to see the next queen."

For the little ones ages 4-6, the 34th annual Little Miss Pageant will take place on the main stage at 10 a.m. Saturday.

BULLS 'N' PULLS

The fair has something for anyone regardless of age. The tractor-pull events, which have been at the fair since its inception in 1924, begin Thursday with the Kiddie Pedal Pull at 6 p.m. For older and more advanced pullers, the ITPA Tractor Pull will be at the same time.

Fleming, who has been on the Fair Board for more than 25 years, said he looks forward to the tractor pull every year after inheriting the interest from his father.

"My father was heavily involved in tractor pulling, so that was a highlight of the summer when I was young," he said. "The tractor pull is the one event that jogs my memory the most. Instead of working at the farm, we would spend a whole week at the fair."

Although he looks forward to the tractors the most, Fleming said watching the rodeo is a close second.

This year, the fair is breaking its one-day rodeo tradition with two Heart of Amish Country Pro Rodeo shows on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. Rooke said the additional shows offer options for people with busy schedules, as well as to attract a larger crowd at the fair.

A HOEDOWN THROWDOWN

The 88th annual Moultrie-Douglas County Fair has a rich history loaded with performances by Reba McEntire and Wynona, Johnny and June Carter Cash and Naomi Judd — and will continue its tradition of bringing big country names in 2018.

"We're expecting our largest crowd Saturday night for Wreckless Whiskey and Tyler Farr," Hoke said.

Also debuting this year is local artist Conner Dean Clayton, Me & Him, Krash Course and country's up-and-coming Robert Carter.

Fleming said the fair organizers have been adding improvements to the fair, including new aluminum bleachers and grandstand lighting, to ensure each attendee an excellent time.

"We want to welcome all to enjoy the family event," he said. "It's a family fair with an excellent reputation for the past 88 years providing entertainment for everyone."

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