In what has become a common theme the past few years at the East Perry Community Fair, rain once again soaked the grounds, reshuffling the order of events and the cancellations of others.
One of those events was the cancellation of the 4x4 truck pull that Fred Eggers, who has worked with the fair committee since 1981, serving as both an officer on the board and as publicity co-chair with Mike Engert for the past decade, said is always one of the biggest attractions of the fair Friday night.
“We just a small amount of rain and then we worked on the track a little bit and it looked like we were ready to go,” Eggers said. “We looked at the weather forecast and it looked as if we would have about four hours without rain. But then things changed and it rained steadily there for more than one hour.”
The grounds received about two inches of rain Friday just hours after the parade, which dampened the crowds, but it wasn’t enough rain out the whole event as the crowds returned on Saturday for the festivities, unlike last year when it rained much of Saturday’s events out with 1.5 inches of precipitation.
“Last year wasn’t so great because it rained much of the day Saturday. But this year was different. We had an exceptional day Saturday,” Eggers said. “It probably wasn’t the biggest crowds we’ve ever had, but the crowds were still large enough to be a successful day. People were walking around and watching the livestock judging and things like that. The only thing we weren’t able to do was the mules and draft horses didn’t do their hitch classes,”
But the rest of Saturday went off without any trouble.
The food sales were good and it looked as if the lines at the cheese sandwich stand and other vendors were never short.
Eggers said that the sales at these stands is the best way to estimate attendance.
“Those numbers for the revenue aren’t in yet,” Eggers said. “but the crowds before the parade and on Saturday were big enough that I feel like we will have some good numbers.”
That would be no surprise. The East Perry Fair typically draws 20,000 people to the small town of Altenburg, the heart of Perry County’s sizable Lutheran community. According to the fair committee’s records, the attendance two years ago, which was hampered by temperatures in the high 90s, was approximately 24,000 people.
The highest estimated attendance came in 2007, when 32,000 people attended the fair. So as long as it doesn’t rain, people always go to “the Biggest Little fair.”
Eggers said the committee nearly attempted to move the canceled truck pull to Saturday night instead, but some scheduling conflicts prevented the change.
“The sled that we had needed to go elsewhere and the company that furnishes the sled has seven of them, but they were all booked for other events.”
But other events did not see any changes.
The parade went smoothly Friday afternoon and The Midnight Cruisers band started a little late on Friday night, but they still performed their full set. Events like the mule jump and the lawn tractor pull went on as scheduled on Saturday.
“The rain had stopped for the band, or down to a drizzle and they had a good audience,” Eggers said.
Despite the rain dampening the grounds, it didn’t wear on the attitude of Eggers that anything would change for next year’s events, as long rain doesn’t interfere once again.
“Everything pretty much stays the same,” Eggers said.
“The rain just has to stay away next year.”