County fair kettle is starting to boil

Four-day celebration starts Thursday

Debbie Cleveland, art exhibit director for the 70th annual Mohave County Fair, shows one of the winning entries after judging was completed Monday. More than 4,500 entries were submitted.

Hubble Ray Smith

Debbie Cleveland, art exhibit director for the 70th annual Mohave County Fair, shows one of the winning entries after judging was completed Monday. More than 4,500 entries were submitted.

KINGMAN – Fairgrounds manager James Guillot is a wanted man in the days preceding the 70th annual Mohave County Fair, which starts Thursday and is expected to draw about 25,000 people over four days.

He’s hunted down by mechanics from Mertens heavy equipment repair who break the bad news that water has infiltrated the fuel system of the fairgrounds’ tractor, and that’s why it’s running poorly.

One of the 130 vendors drops by the office to pick up a packet and pay his fee. Two teenagers knock on the door looking for work, and Guillot kindly turns them away. He advises an exhibitor from SunPower Esmay Electric on where to park his RV for the weekend.

It’s a never-ending list of tasks to be accomplished before the gates open at 3 p.m. Thursday and the fairgrounds come alive with midway rides, entertainment, art and horticulture exhibits and livestock pens filled with cows, horses, pigs, goats and chickens.

Guillot overlooks the office and maintenance staff, and keeps an eye on the fair committee to make sure everything falls into place.

“There’s a lot of new people on the committee, and they’ve taken a load off me,” he said while stuffing vendor packets in the office. “Folks have done a phenomenal job to get the place ready.”

Adult admission was increased to $7 this year, up $2 from last year, to bring in bigger-name entertainment, Guillot said. The main concert stage has been moved closer to the midway to draw more of a crowd, and the lineup of bands includes Little Texas and Redhead Express on Thursday; Redhead Express and Branch and Dean on Friday; and Firehouse and Tiki Bandits on Saturday.

A variety of acts such as Hyno Joe, knife-thrower Larry Cisewski and Magic of Olly will entertain on the smaller Alta Sharp stage.

Presale carnival tickets sold out in less than a month, a good indicator of strong fair attendance, Guillot notes. One of the new attractions this year is elephant rides near the old stage.

Debbie Cleveland, art exhibit director, is organizing more than 4,500 entries that were turned in by the Aug. 19 deadline.

“And then it starts to roll. I just want to be involved in the fair. I want to see the fair grow, to see more involvement,” she said Monday as the entries were being judged. “We need to bring up young people and let them know the fair is part of the community.”

The category for “challenged” individuals has been expanded to include people with Alzheimer’s and those who’ve suffered strokes, exhibit supervisor Georgianna Rosencrans said.

“We weren’t targeting that before, but there’s a whole lot of talent out there, even in nursing homes,” she said.