The grounds are silent.
The hum of fans has been quieted. fencing has been taken down, displays have been packed up and all that remains of the 2011 Palo Alto County Fair are memories for those who exhibited at, participated in, or attended the fair during its' four-day run last week.
There are always memories from events like the fair, and sub-stories that arise throughout the fair's run. For everyone involved, there will be memories and stories to share for a long time to come.
Perhaps the biggest memory will be the heat of summer - and how it teased the fair on Friday and Saturday, after baking the area in the days preceeding the start of the event. Exhibits Judging Day on Tuesday was a challenge, to put it mildly, as the thermometer hovered in the mid-90's as the exhibitors met with their respective judges to have their efforts evaluated.
The temperatures moderated later on Wednesday, allowing the beef animals to be brought to the grounds for their weigh-in during the evening, and the grounds were active with exhibitors bringing their animals to the grounds prior to Thursday morning's official start of the fair.
The weather moderated on Thursday, and nice crowds turned out to watch exhibitors show their rabbits and poultry. Dogs were put through their paces for obedience and agility, babies and toddlers provided lots of laughs and cheers in their races and then came the excitement of the crowning of the Palo Alto County Fair Queen.
With three wonderful candidates, the judges were hard-pressed to arrive at their decision - any one of the candidates could have been chosen - but the crown was finally placed on the head of Miranda McGrauth of Ruthven, and her smile would grace the fairgrounds for the rest of the fair's run - even at mud volleyball!
There were plenty of sights and sounds in the livestock shows on Friday that included the market swine, market goats and market lambs, but one of the favorite events was the bucket/bottle calf show. with nearly 30 young exhibitors filling the show ring and then the bottle lambs, including their costume show. From a lamb named Jeffrey to one named Poodle, the costumed critters and their humans brought wide smiles and chuckles to the crowd.
The beef show and horse show on Saturday kept the fairgrounds buzzing, with their intense level of competition. The beef show featured a "feel good" story that everyone likes to hear, and the newest event at the fair, Fire department water fights, provided spectators a fun way to cool off on a warmish afternoon, and started some bragging rights for West Bend Fire Department (there's already talk about rematches at next year's fair!).
A Sunday morning worship service with a message, most appropriately, about lost sheep, led off the final day of the fair, as the Pony Express Horse Show and Go-Kart races kept the grounds buzzing while in the pavilion, the all-premium auction wrapped up the fair with the exception of Sunday night's youth dance.
Oh, and there was food - burgers, pizza, snow cones, mini donuts, tacos, BBQ?pork, ribeye steaks - oh, what food, demonstrations, educational presentations, commercial booths, air-conditioned bathrooms,
You know, we had fun regardless of the weather. I hope you enjoyed the fair too.