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Mower County Fair saw record numbers

Like so many fairs across the country, the 2020 Mower County Fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because the Mower County Fair was one of the last to cancel, preparations for having the 2020 fair in the new COVID era had begun before it was cancelled. Extra hand sanitizing stations were installed, additional sanitation practices were put in place, and sanitizing fogging machines were purchased to help treat building interiors.

With the extra measures in place, the 2021 Mower County Fair was held this August 10-15. In a press release released this week, the Mower County Fair said  fairgoers were loud and clear in their message that they love the Mower County Fair and were excited for it to return as they responded by setting an attendance record. 

Several of the past few years have had attendance just under 100,000. In 2021, a Mower County Fair record was set with an attendance of 102,712.

The increased attendance was reflected in most areas of the fair such as parking, the Purple Ribbon Plaza, and the carnival, all of which saw an increase in activity and revenue compared to 2019. Area businesses were also enthused for the return of the fair as more businesses supported the fair through sponsorships and support.

The fair kicked off with opening ceremonies and The Pride Of Mower Awards on Fair Square at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

That evening, the Purple Ribbon Plaza saw a great turn out of area business representatives at the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours and at the same time, Gold Star Amusements opened up with $2 rides all evening. The evening wrapped up with the popular fireworks display.

With almost no events held in 2020, many food vendors were out of work all of last year. This year, vendors and carnivals struggled to get enough staff to operate, and most have spent the summer doing their best to adjust to staffing shortages. Even with that, most began the road to recovery in 2021 with increased sales over 2019 and other recent years. Mower County Fair was reported by most to be a very successful event for them, and they appreciated the support of fair goers.

Grandstand events were well attended with bull riding and the demolition derby continuing to lead the way in attendance. Each year, the fair board has had to find creative ways to safely seat more spectators. 2021 saw record crowds at both events. Like the food vendors, the promoters of these events were idle in 2020, so they were very appreciative of the support of fans and fairgoers.

4-H and FFA youth returned to the fair to show their livestock and non-livestock projects. Overall, open livestock shows also saw a slight increase in participation. The Livestock Hall of Fame ceremony and reception was well attended.

Despite struggles with staffing and supplies and the economic setbacks 2020 brought, there were some new commercial booth exhibitors in the Plager Building as well as the return of some long-time ones. In addition, there were several outdoor exhibitors that offered goods, services, and information to the public.

Hard work by the fair board and staff, volunteers, exhibitors, vendors, and participants, along with perfect weather, all lead to a great week and record attendance. The fair board extends its thanks to staff and volunteers and sponsors and especially to all who supported the 2021 Mower County Fair to make it the great success it was. The 2022 Mower County Fair will be held Aug. 9-14.