Walking the fairgrounds Saturday, one was able to see the many improvements that have been made over the years, and they make an impressive list.
First, we see the Lumber Town exhibit, just opened. This is its first year, but it’s far from modern. Rather, it tells the story of how Madera used to be. Its exhibits, which include an operating steam donkey (used to pull logs from the woods on long cables driven by a winch powered by a steam engine), a bandsaw with a five-inch-wide blade that was used to rough-saw logs before they were sent down the mountains on a flume of more than 50 miles, will be added to in the future. The exhibit will become a great tourism draw, as such exhibits have in other cities.
Next, one notices an increase in the quality and quantity of entertainment. The rides seem bigger and better, the stage shows more sophisticated. At the livestock sale, buyers and sellers were kept cool by an evaporative cooling system of shade cloth and big fans, so that cool breezes kept the crowd cool as hundreds of animals went through the ring to be sold. People who had worked the sale for years appreciated that change.
Outside the fair proper, many new businesses shared their parking lots with fairgoers, a considerable change from a half-dozen years ago when land now occupied by those businesses was little more than a half-paved lot that collected litter.
The Madera District Fair Board and manager Scott Sample have led the fair into a new era of accomplishment of which they, the city, the county and the state all can be proud.
People who visit fairs around the state know our fair isn’t the biggest, but for its size it’s becoming one of the best.