MINERAL WELLS - Rain showers in the early afternoon gave way to clear skies and sunshine Tuesday, just in time for opening night of the 40th annual West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition.
"We got dozens of calls this afternoon about the rain; a lot of people were wondering if this would affect opening night," said Russ Collins, vice president of the fair board. "We told them to come on out to the fair, that the rain would be out of the area by 6 p.m."
Carnival rides were halted for about 30 minutes between 5 and 6 p.m., but sure enough, the skies cleared and the fair continued as usual. Collins said he anticipated a decent crowd.
Photos by Natalee Seely
There are more than 22 food vendors at the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition in Mineral Wells.
"The rain just knocked the dust out a little, no harm done," he said. "Actually, it may have taken the temperature down a few degrees. There is always a silver lining."
With more than 22 food vendors, 31 commercial vendors, games, carnival rides, crafts, 4-H animal showings and entertainment by country music singer Randy Houser, opening night had something for everyone, said Collins.
As a precaution, firefighters and EMS crews from Eastwood Volunteer Fire Department were on hand in case of medical emergencies or heat-related illnesses.
Today's Fair Schedule:
- 10 a.m.: Youth and Open Poultry Show and Showmanship (Livestock Area)
- Noon: Ticket Gates Open; Pretty Baby Registration (13-36 months) (Open Shelter)
- 1 p.m.: Pretty Baby Contest (13-36 months) (Open Shelter); Carnival opens
- 2 p.m.: Granpa Cratchet Show; Kids Day Activites Begin (12 and under)
- 5 p.m.: Granpa Cratchet Show; Carnival closes (dinner break)
- 5:30 p.m.: ATV Mud Bog registration
- 6 p.m.: Bingo; Junior Swine Showmanship and Junior Swine Show (Livestock Area)
- 6:15 p.m.: Carnival opens
- 6:30 p.m.: Texaco Country Music Showdown/Karaoke (Main Stage)
- 7:30 p.m.: ATV Mud Bog (Track Area)
- 8 p.m.: Granpa Cratchet Show
- 11 p.m.: Fairgrounds close
"We will be seeing a couple 90-degree days, but after Wednesday it should be cooler and more comfortable the rest of the week," Collins said. "Compared to last year, when we had a 97-degree day, this is much better."
Megan Landers, of Parkersburg, attended opening night with two friends to see Houser perform at 8:30 p.m.
"We always come to opening night and Saturday night during fair week, especially if someone I like is performing," she said. "Randy Houser has a new single called 'How Country Feels' that we all love."
Besides the live music, Landers said she also loves bumping in to old friends at the fair.
"It's just such a traditional event. I feel like I see a dozen people I know, just walking around," she said. "I wouldn't even think about missing it."
Brenda McCune came with her two children. She hasn't missed the fair in 14 years.
"We come every year, for the kids. We love to see them having a good time," said McCune. "The games don't mean much to them as long as there are carnival rides."
McCune said she waited under a shelter until the rain cleared Tuesday afternoon.
"My son said he didn't care if it poured all night that he would be staying until it closed," she said.
For a few people, such as Washington resident Vicki Underwood and her 8-year-old son Alexander, Tuesday was their first visit to the interstate fair.
"We actually just moved to the area a couple years ago, so this is our first time here," said Underwood. "I love the lemonade and the frozen treats. My son loves the games; his goal every year is to win one of those huge stuffed animals."
Collins said the mud bog events, beginning tonight with ATV mud bog at 7:30, will draw a large crowd.
"We expect it to be a very good year," he said.