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Making fair happen is anything but easy

It lasts only six days, but it takes 11-plus months to prepare for it. We're talking about the annual Citrus County Fair and the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making it one of the top county fairs in the state.

If you don't believe it is tops, ask fair manager Jean Grant. She, fair president Nell Mayberry and other members of the board of directors often travel to other fairs around the state for an insight into what is being done and how.

"We have one of the best fairs in the state," Grant said. "We are cleaner, safer. We have more young people involved. And just overall, it is a much better fair than most."

While fairgoers may concentrate on the food, rides and entertainment, C.L. Calloway, who heads the building and grounds committee with co-chairmen Lyle Davis and Bill Hoppert, knows the fair from top to bottom.

Working together, the men look for anything that might be a problem. They check buildings, roofs, walkways and other areas, scanning for things that need to be repaired, updated, painted or generally cleaned up.

The buildings are cleaned. The trash barrels are newly painted. The livestock arena and its complex is fresh and waiting for the first steers to trample it and the first roosters to crow. Roofs have been checked for leaks, cleaned and painted. Sidewalk cracks are fixed and electrical connections safely secured.

In the past they worked with the electric company to get the power lines on the midway put underground. Besides being safer, it provided more space on the midway.

Calloway said it was an ongoing job. But when it's time for the fair, he said, "We're ready."

James Bussell paints the roof of the fairground exhibition in February. "That roof is bigger than you think once you get started painting it," he said.