By R.D. Fish

As a newspaper guy, I find fairs and festivals fun to cover. I am optimistically hopeful the 2017 Stover Fair Thursday through Saturday, June 15-17, will be a success.
In my third year covering the Stover Fair, I think the fair board keeps getting better at hosting it.
Also, after covering two or three Versailles apple festivals, Morgan County Fairs, Stover Christmas Parades, and Laurie Hillbilly Fairs, I think the Stover Fair has some advantages.
One strength the Stover Fair has, compared to the apple fest and the Christmas parade, is that it takes place in the Stover city park, rather than downtown. This allows downtown businesses to stay open, the path to their front doors unblocked by competing vendors, so they can try cashing in on the fair crowds.
On the other hand, a downtown event like the apple fest could provide an incentive for Second Street property owners to renew their paintwork more often, like they do around the square in Versailles.
I like the hillbilly fair’s rustic theme, which draws certain types of vendors who, in turn, add fun to the event. Stover’s theme is pretty much just Stoverness – but that opens up lots of possibilities, like a garden tractor pull, a car show, and a greased pig.
Also, I think the Stover Fair’s parade route through the park works better than the Hillbilly Fair parade along Highway 5. It makes the parade feel more a part of the fair.
The county fair has its own kinds of attraction, like agriculture and home economics shows, demolition derbies, and 4-H kids’ decorated hay bales. That serves an important role in countywide life. But there’s something to be said for simply “making time for a good time.”
Still, each of these events suggests ways Stover could build a new tradition, a separate event, to help raise funds for city-improvement priorities, or to promote local business.
For example, how about:
• a Downtown Days festival, with cookout food – nothing fancy, just burgers, hot dogs, and ice cream – and prize drawings using tickets that have to be punched or stamped by every business open on Second Street.
• a hoe-down, or maybe a hootenanny, with old-time fiddlers, pickers, and dancers encouraged to invade the town, while local shops offer free iced tea or lemonade (or wine or beer) to anyone who wants to take a break out of the sunshine.
• a parade of local, available real estate, including homes and commercial property, with cookies or crackers set out along the route by folks interested in selling the town.
• a “fixer-upper” drive to improve a building that needs just a little work, perhaps getting a paint company or a construction supply store to match local donations or fundraiser proceeds.
Events like these might succeed with an ad budget to reach into surrounding markets, including the big cities, and with at least one local organization (Chamber? Lions? Realtors?) doing the footwork.
So, without competing against our downtown or our local fair, we could have fun and make a difference at the same time.

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