A Night at the Grant County Fair
Hogs, a glowing ferris wheel and stick horse races offer family-friendly fun from a bygone era
You know when you are at real country fair when a trio of big ass Hampshire hogs come charging at you.
Yep, that happened Thursday night at the Grant County Fair in Sheridan. But I remained calm as they headed out the gate where I was filming these huge hogs that had just performed in a pig show.
But other than that hammy one-minute experience, the Grant County Fair was down-homey, relaxing and fun – an escape to a gentler less digital era where kids win stuffed snakes and glowing light sabers by popping balloons and throwing ping pong into cups while their parents keep watch and visit with old friends.
At a time when county fairs throughout Arkansas are shrinking or vanishing completely, Grant County is a model of how fairs can embrace the past in the 21st century.
This year, the Grant County Fair moved from its old grounds that had served as its base for decades on Hwy 270 east of Sheridanto a new spacious spot on US 167 North.
The main reason why the Grant County Fair is a success? The entire community united to create a special week that kicked off with a parade and ends this weekend with mutton busting and a rodeo on Friday and Saturday nights. The popular poultry auction is Friday night.
Community members and business owners also donated major money and hours of hard work to make the fair a class act family-friendly event — a throwback to a simpler time.
Take the livestock in the People's Bank Showbarn.
Chickens, hogs, cows, goats, rabbits geese and even a turkey. Future Farmers of America and 4-H students raise them for weeks and months and show them off to earn ribbons and prizes.
People may shrug at FFA students but they deserve a lot more credit than they get for working with these animals. Let me tell you it looks a lot harder handling a 200-pound pig than throwing a football. FFA deserve a lot of credit. More than they get that's for sure.
Another reason FFA and 4-H kids are important? They may be raising our future food. The popular chicken chain auction is Friday night. Yes, you can buy chickens!
Once upon a time, the exhibition halls at any county, regional or state fair were packed with shelves and tables of canned goods, quilts, afghans, bonnets – you name anything your grandmother made and they likely in a fair. Those homemade vintage treasures are becoming, sadly, an extinct art.
But Grant County folks don't give up. Original artwork, canned pickles, crochet potholders and a gigantic pumpkin were on display.
With a ferris wheel, Tilt-A-Whirl, classic merry-go-round and more, rides were plentiful so were games where you could win this groovy alien.
For Sheridan Mayor Cain Nattin, the fair is close to his heart.
“Growing up, I was actively involved in the Grant County 4-H program,” Nattin said. “I always looked forward to the yearly fair because I always got the opportunity to show chickens. I remember getting them as just little chicks and watching them grow into ribbon winners (never grand champion..) The fair is not only important for the FFA and 4-H programs, but also the residents who show up year after year and support our local fair board.”
Nattin said that the men and women of the Grant County Fair board “have worked their tails off these last few weeks transitioning to the new fairgrounds north of town!
“They have worked countless hours and deserve so much credit for making the whole thing possible.”
Nattin said he and his wife plan to attend the rodeo Friday night at “the brand-new rodeo arena that looks amazing and hope that all city and county residents show up and support the individuals who have poured so much into running the best of the best Grant County fair.”