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Pared-down Hernando County Fair opens Monday

BROOKSVILLE

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Facing an ailing economy and the state's second-highest unemployment rate, organizers of this year's Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show say they are looking to attract customers with more of a back-to-basics approach.

"We know that a lot of people are hurting financially," said fair administrator Joy Jackson. "So we're doing everything we can to make the fair affordable and fun for everyone."

That means that the 58th edition of the fair, which opens Monday and runs through April 12, will be sporting a slightly different look than last year's and will be a vastly different event than it was just two years ago.

Gone is the big-ticket entertainment such as the Marshall Tucker Band and country legends John Anderson and the Bellamy Brothers. Professional rodeo competition, which for a while drew top cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the South, won't be returning either, said fair president Sandra Nicholson.

"We're watching our budget like everyone else, and things that didn't make money are definitely out," Nicholson said. "We would rather concentrate on providing people with a good time that's not going to cost them or us a lot."

Nicholson said that even though fair admission has increased by $2 this year, the price now includes admission to a number of special events, such as the demolition derby and tractor and truck pulls, that used to carry extra charges.

Jackson said last year's attendance of 28,000 was down from the previous year, but respectable considering the economic climate and that the fair had been shortened by three days. With this year's fair dates once again coinciding with spring break in the Hernando schools, the hope is that attendance will be about the same.

"It's hard to predict," Jackson said. "The best we can do is to offer a lot of different activities that will attract as many people as possible."

This year's fair will welcome back Reithoffer Shows of Gibsonton as its midway provider. Jackson said the fair will offer more discount unlimited-ride armbands than in previous years. In addition, a special "Ten Buck Tuesday" deal will offer free fair admission with the purchase of a $10 ride armband.

As always, much of the fair's focus is on homegrown activities such as livestock shows, quilting and sewing demonstrations, and arts and crafts displays.

"To me, those things have always been the heart of the fair," Jackson said. "It's a showcase where people can share their talents and be recognized for them."

One new feature of interest for kids will be "Cow Town," offering an interactive agricultural activity that enables youngsters to milk a cow and then turn the milk into butter or ice cream.

A variety of live entertainment will be provided throughout the fair, including special free concerts by the Alabama Blues Brothers, the Marlins, local country singer Jenny Rimmer and other artists.

Though the fair is a bit more austere than in past years, Nicholson believes most people will still find it a good deal for their money.

"We're hoping that people are wanting to stay closer to home this Easter," she said. "Considering what you'd spend going to Disney World for the day, it's a bargain."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

If you go

What: 58th annual Hernando County Fair and Youth Livestock Show — "Raising the Steaks!"

When: Monday through April 12

Where: Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville

Admission: $7 for adults, $3 for kids 4 to 12; free for kids 3 and under. Parking is $2 per car with all proceeds going to the Hernando County Sheriff's Explorers. Enter on Oliver Street from U.S. 41 and park on the north side of the fairgrounds. Once those spots are filled, parking will be across U.S. 41, and sheriff's deputies will provide escorts across the highway.

Information: Call (352) 796-4552 or visit www.hernandofairgrounds.com.



Schedule

Monday

Gate admission free with purchase of $15 armband

5-11 p.m. Gates open

5:30 p.m. Opening ceremony

6 p.m. Swine Show and Showmanship, Livestock Show Barn

6 p.m. Celebrity Karaoke Contest, Outside Stage

7 p.m. High Steaks Karaoke Contest, Day 1, Outside Stage

7 p.m. Hip-Hop Night (arena gates open at 6:30 p.m.)

Tuesday

"Ten Buck Tuesday": Gate admission free with purchase of $10 armband

5-11 p.m. Gates open

5:30 p.m. Parade of Horse Breeds, Arena

6 p.m. High Steaks Karaoke Contest, Day 2, Outside Stage

6 p.m. Swine sale, Livestock Show Barn

Wednesday

Regular gate admission; $15 armband available for the midway. Seniors 60 and over, $3 admission.

3 p.m. Exhibits open

5-11 p.m. Midway gate open

6 p.m. Steer Show and Showmanship, Livestock Show Barn

6:30 p.m. Paso Fino Horse Show, Arena (gates open at 6 p.m.)

Free entertainment on outdoor stage:

4 p.m. The Marlins

6 p.m. The Marlins

7 p.m. Mid Life Crisis

8:15 p.m. Matthew Romeo

Thursday

Regular gate admission; $15 armband available for the midway

5-11 p.m. Gates open

6 p.m. High Steaks Karaoke Contest Finals, Outside Stage

6 p.m. Steer sale, Livestock Show Barn

7 p.m. Rock Bands, Arena (gates open at 6:30 p.m.)

Friday

Regular gate admission; $20 armband available for the midway

5 p.m.-1 a.m. Gates open

7:30 p.m. Demolition Derby, Arena (gates open 6:30 p.m.)

Free entertainment on outdoor stage:

5 p.m. Noiz Control

6:30 p.m. Stephanie Renae

7 p.m. Alabama Blues Brothers

7:45 p.m. Jenny Rimmer

8:15 p.m. Alabama Blues Brothers

9:15 p.m. Jenny Rimmer

Saturday

Regular gate admission; $10 armband available
1-5 p.m. for the midway; $15 armband available
6 p.m.-midnight.

11 a.m. Easter egg hunt, Lonnie Colburn Park — ages 3 years and under (parent assisted), 4 to 6 (no parents on field) and 7 to 10 (no parents on field)

1 p.m.-midnight Gates open

10 a.m. Diary Goat Show (gates open 7:30 a.m.), Livestock Show Barn

4 p.m. Tractor Pull, Arena (gates open 3 p.m.)

Free entertainment on outdoor stage:

1:15 p.m. Shazadi & Jewels of the Desert

2 p.m. Kenny Grubbe as Elvis

2:45 p.m. Mitch Cain

4 p.m. George Marshall

5 p.m. Alabama Blues Brothers

8 p.m. One Night Stand

April 12

Regular gate admission; $15 armband available for the midway

1-8 p.m. Gates open

2 p.m. Truck Pull, Arena (gates open 1 p.m.)

4 p.m. Easter Bonnet Parade and Contest (deadline for signup is 3 p.m.; winners announced at 6 p.m.)

Free entertainment on outdoor stage:

1:30 p.m. Crystal Whitehouse

3 p.m. Myron Friedrichs

Continuous daily attractions

NoJoe's Clown Circus: stage shows and strolling acts

Cow Town: an interactive agriculture experience — milk a real cow, make your own butter or ice cream

Cosmo Kid: Extreme spray paint art entertainment

Demonstrations in auditorium: quilting, rug hooking, cane weaving, sewing

Home Style exhibits in the auditorium: arts, crafts, homemade items

Baby Animal Barn: closes 8 p.m. daily

Pared-down Hernando County Fair opens Monday 04/04/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 4, 2009 1:17pm]
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