Large crowd turns out for fair parade

In keeping with local tradition, thousands of people lined the streets Tuesday evening to watch the annual Saline County Fair Parade.

The fair theme "Blue Jeans and Country Dreams" was incorporated into many of the entries in the procession that began on South Market Street and processed through Downtown Benton.

More than 100 entries took part in the event, said Tom Wallace, a member of the county fair board.

Decorated floats, cars and trucks were included, along with marching bands, cheer squads, Shriners units and a procession of tractors from an organization in Sheridan.

Leading the parade was a unit from the Benton Police Department followed closely by the parade's official equestrian pair, Skylar Wise and Aubrey Lee.

Winners were selected in three categories by the panel of judges seated in front of the Royal Theatre, where Royal Players members sold bargain popcorn, hot dogs and soft drinks before, during and after the parade.

The Saline County Library float captured first place in the category of "decorated cars, trucks and floats."
Coming in second in that division was a "float boat" of ninth-grade school students; and third was the float entered by the Ladybacks softball team.

In the equestrian division, Stoney Point Ranch placed first and the Cowboy Church placed second. No third place was awarded in this division.

In the antique cars category, Jack Ramsey placed first with his turquoise and white Buick; Joe and Vera Kaderabek were second with a white Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray; and Jo Ann Duncan was third with her yellow convertible.

The spirit was enthusiastic among the parade participants, Wallace noted after the event, and he said the spectators seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

"Even the weather was perfect," Wallace noted.

Following the parade, the midway officially opened at the fairgrounds. The first armband promotion was held Tuesday with the $18 bands entitling individuals to ride as many rides and as many times as they desired throughout the evening.

Many competitive events are taking place this week during the fair and are in place today, fair organizers said.

All entries will be judged except the rabbit and poultry entries with the large animal judging taking place at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the show arena. At this time the sheep/goat/swine barn and cattle barn will be closed to visitors.

Thursday is Senior Citizens Day at the fair with lunch served to seniors at 11 a.m. Poultry and rabbit showmanship winners will be announced at approximately 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the show arena. 
The rabbit show will start at 6 p.m. Thursday at the same time that the second armband night opens for the carnival.

"On Thursday night, H & H Rodeo Co. will host a bull riding and mutton-bustin’ demonstration at Thomas Arena," fair board member Mollie Wright said. The mutton-bustin event begins at 7:30 p.m. and the bull riding follows at 8.

A $5 fee will be charged for the bull-riding show, Wright said.

Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., is designated as School Day and Special Needs Day.

At 6 p.m. Thursday the carnival will open and at 6:30 p.m. the annual 4-H Pee Wee Livestock show will be held in the show arena.

This event is open to children 8 and younger who would like to lead a sheep or goat to win a rosette ribbon.  At 7:30, H & H Rodeo Company will host the annual mutton bustin’ in the arena, then open the annual rodeo at 8 p.m. 

"Admission to the rodeo is $10 for adults; $5 for children 7 to 10; and free to children 6 and younger," Wright said.

Activities will be continuous on Saturday, Wright said.

"We will kick off the day with the annual poultry chain auction at 9 a.m. in the show arena," Wright said.

"Then the annual Jr. Livestock Exhibitors Premium Sale and Auction will take place at 10 a.m. in the show arena. The carnival will start at 1 p.m. with armband day until 4 p.m., then reopen at 6 o'clock that evening.

Evans United out of Missouri is providing the carnival," Wright said. "The midway will open at 6 each evening and at 1 p.m. on Saturday."

Wright pointed out that the Saline County 4-H Clubs are hosting a petting zoo that will be open from 6 to 9 each evening.