Free admission to county fair
Annual attraction opens Tuesday
BENTONVILLE — Benton County Fair organizers hope a new feature — free admission — will boost attendance this year.
The fair opens Tuesday and runs through Saturday at the fairgrounds, 7640 S.W. Regional Airport Road.
Ashley Hays, president of the Benton County Fair Association board, said the board considered trying to provide free admission for kids for some time but then decided to go all out and seek sponsorships to provide free admission to all.
“The kids and the families of the kids who exhibit are always going to attend. We need to draw the people from the towns. To get them to come see the exhibits, participate in the carnival and other attractions. Hopefully the free admission will help,” Hays said.
Hays and fair manager Susan Kohler said the board persuaded about 17 sponsors to provide the money for free admission. Kohler pointed to
Wal-Mart, McKee Foods and Arvest Bank as the three largest sponsors.
Kohler said one new attraction — goat yoga — already has generated interest.
“It’s yoga, with goats,” Kohler said. “We’ve got two sessions scheduled, and they’re already sold out. We may have to add a third.”
The fair also will have many other popular attractions, including a tractor pull and a lawnmower pull, Hays said. Also, a number of horse show events have been added this year.
The mission of the fair is to provide a gathering place for communities to showcase their products and promote agriculture and traditions across the county, according to information in a handout. The fair supports 4H, Future Farmers of America, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and the youth of Benton County. Hays and Kohler pointed to the success of the Junior Livestock Auction as an example of how the fair supports young people.
“The Junior Livestock Auction last year raised $130,000 for 250 kids,” Hays said. “All of the money goes to the kids. Typically they use it for their livestock projects or for their college fund, whatever they need.”
Eldon Cripps, who is on the fair board, said he’s optimistic the fair will see a good turnout this year.
“Our facilities are topnotch,” he said.
Hays agreed and said he thinks turnout this year could surpass recent years when the attendance numbers ranged from 10,000 to 17,000 people.
“I think we can reach the top end of that range,” Hays said.
Volunteer Robin Earles, 12, of Fayetteville, a seventh-grader at Woodland Junior High School, sorts donated school supplies Friday aboard a Fayetteville School District bus at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Mall Avenue in Fayetteville. The United Way of Northwest Arkansas is collecting school supplies at area WalMart locations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today in its annual Fill the Bus effort to benefit local school districts.