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Saying FAIRwell
Fair - Peewee Dairy Show Sawyer Moore.jpg
Sheila Fann photo Sawyer Moore proudly displays his trophy from the Pee Wee Dairy Show at the Warren County A&L Fair.

The main arena in front of the grandstands at the Warren County A&L Fair has been named for Steve Grandey.

The longtime fair volunteer and former fair president received the recognition Friday night.

“If there was a Mt. Rushmore of fair volunteers, you’d have Clifford McClain on one end and Steve Grandey on the other,” said Regan Kelsey, current fair president. “It’s debatable who you’d have in the middle, but you’d definitely have those two on the ends. Steve’s done more in the 30 years I’ve been affiliated with the fair than anybody I know.”

In addition to the arena, the TWRA building was named in honor of Kenneth Medlen, who died as fair president in November of 2019.

“Kenneth’s sudden passing was hard on all of us and this year’s fair was a way to put a little closure on that and for us to come together as a fair organization,” said Kelsey. “We don’t name buildings around here very often so I think it’s very significant to name those buildings in honor of those two individuals Friday night.”

In this COVID era, Kelsey estimates fair attendance was down slightly this year, maybe 10% to 15%. But he believes rain is to blame for some of that.

“Monday and Wednesday were jam packed nights, and Wednesday was probably the busiest Wednesday night I’ve ever seen at the fair,” said Kelsey. “Rain really hurt us on Tuesday night. It poured. I think we got close to 2 inches in about an hour and that opened up some ditches and walking hazards we’re not used to seeing. But I’m really proud of how we handled that. We had a group start repairs outside the fair in the parking lots and we had a group start working inside the fair and we got most everything fixed in a short amount of time.”

“With a free fair where everyone can come and go as they please, it’s all just estimates,” said Kelsey. “But I’d say we were pretty close to where we were pre-pandemic, maybe just a little lower overall.”

The Senior Citizens Day was canceled Tuesday morning due to COVID concerns. Rain canceled the tractor pull on Saturday and a few other Saturday events were still up in the air as the Standard was going to press.

“We’re experts in doing the best we can with what we’ve got and being flexible in our decision making,” said Kelsey.

It was the first fair for Kelsey as fair president. He was president last year when the Fair Board reluctantly made the decision to cancel the 2020 event. Kelsey said his first year presiding over an active fair has been a memorable experience.

“There have been a lot of emotions for sure,” said Kelsey. “It’s just been two years, but so much has changed since we last had a fair. We’re closing the book on this year and, believe it or not, we’ll start next week working on next year’s fair. Hopefully we’ll have all our food booths open and things will be closer to getting back to how they were.”

Get Friday’s edition of the Southern Standard for our Fair Highlights section.