BROOKSVILLE — Compliments outnumbered complaints, general manager Sandra Nicholson said, as the 62nd edition of the Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show drew to a close Saturday.
Top marks went to the move of entertainment from an outdoor tent to the air-conditioned auditorium during the nine-day fair. Both performers and fairgoers praised the relocation, Nicholson said.
While some visitors voiced a desire for a top-name musical act, Nicholson said, hit entertainers in the past have failed to draw big enough crowds to pay their way. On the other hand, the lesser-known acts at this year's fair did well, she said.
"We had a lot of local people getting more gigs," Nicholson said.
The agricultural areas on the grounds also attracted good crowds, she said.
"A lot of people were in the barns," she said. "Everybody wants to see the big animals."
The dairy cattle show, in its second year, gave adults an opportunity to show their youngsters where milk comes from. And in the swine barn, eyes opened wide as people saw the source of bacon and pork chops, grown to as much as 365 pounds. Steaks on the hoof crossed the scale at up to 1,350 pounds, though 4-H Club and FFA producers could point out that a steer holds a lot more hamburger than porterhouse.
Fair vice president and livestock manager Tammy Fincher said arena stands were packed for the swine competition, greased pig contest and sheep riding for kids.
Traffic through the exhibit buildings was greater this year, Nicholson said. Family living entries —- needlework, kitchen products, arts and crafts — were relocated to the Jackson Building, "which just feels homier," she said.
A few worrisome glitches occurred — a water line break, a transformer fire — but were quickly repaired. Complaints mostly concerned vendor competition and personal issues, Nicholson said.
The beauty pageant failed to come off when the professional stager did not show up. And an insufficient number of volunteers were lined up to handle admissions and other chores. Requests for volunteers simply hadn't gone out, Nicholson lamented.
On the other hand, she said the fair's first weekend — featuring a truck and tractor pull, Tommie Turvey's trained horse show and Sunday's unlimited midway rides for $15 — was one of the biggest weekends in her 10 years on the fair board.
The tallying of attendance and consideration of improvements for the 2014 fair will get under way this week, Nicholson said.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]