County fair cuts days for 2018

WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County Fair Association cut its schedule back for next year after it couldn’t reach a deal with the carnival vendor.

The association announced recently that the 2018 schedule begins Aug. 26 and runs through Sept. 1 – two days fewer than usual. Fair manager Tom Eshelman said Monday the association decided to reduce the duration after it could not negotiate a reasonably priced, long-term deal with the provider of the carnival and midway attractions.

Fairgoers likely would see little difference with the shortened schedule though the association continues to work on the details, Eshelman said.

“It’s still a little too soon to tell,” he said.

Eshelman also said that the fair might cut back from three concerts to two. The association plans to move the pig scramble from Friday night to Sunday and the tractor pull from Saturday to Wednesday. The fair has scheduled the lawnmower pull on Sunday, he added.

“The main thing we’re doing is eliminating one or two nights of expensive grandstand entertainment where people have gotta pay a pretty upscale fee to watch something,” Eshelman said. “The low-cost, free stuff that we do, that’s still gonna be there. It’s not gonna go away.”

The first Sunday of the fair serves as a soft opening for the week’s events that kick in on Monday.

“It is giving up the first weekend, which can be tricky with weather and stuff like that,” Eshelman said. “In order to get a carnival that made sense and fit our budget and everything like that, this was a move that we just felt necessary to make for this year.”

The association leadership tried to negotiate a contract with Michael’s Amusements Inc., the fair’s carnival and midway provider for the past several years, Eshelman said. The association had used one-year contracts with Michael’s.

“He’s done a great job,” Eshelman said. “No complaints against them whatsoever. This was all about negotiating a longer-term deal.”

The association decided to look elsewhere and selected Cole Amusement Company Inc.

“There are carnivals out there that aren’t up to the standards of what we’ve had in the past,” Eshelman said. “To find somebody with good, clean, quality rides, that has a good inspection history and offers what our customers are used to, this was the route to go and, in fact, he’s bringing an extra ride, which is great.”