Many glad to see fair's return


Shelby and Payton Luebchow of Paxton hold their rabbits at the Ford County Fair / CIFN photo.

MELVIN – Animals, carnival rides and food stands are returning to Central Illinois this summer as county fair season is officially here.


A nice breeze and sunny skies greeted visitors to this week’s Ford County Fair at Melvin, which traditionally kicks off the summer fair circuit. Fair board president Kirk Miller admits it has been tough getting folks back in the mode of helping out and attracting volunteers after a year off.


“People are anxious to get back out and see what’s going on,” Miller told The Central Illinois Farm Network on Monday.


Miller pointed to a number of improvements to the grounds such as new asphalt millings in the concert area and the installation of a 24-inch tile for better drainage. A number of light poles have been replaced and a new pavilion will be erected for next year’s fair.


Micah Luebchow of Paxton was hanging out in the rabbit barn Monday as his two daughters who are involved in 4-H brought their rabbits to the fair.


“We make sure they are comfortable and try to get a breeze blowing through the shed here,” Luebchow said.


Luebchow’s daughters, Shelby and Payton, typically help out in the barn with specific chores such as feeding and brushing.


“This morning, they helped load them up in the truck.”


The Luebchow family will also try to hit the Iroquois County Fair this summer, although it is typically a busy place and it will likely be warmer during that fair in July. They even travel as far as Indiana and Wisconsin to participate in open shows.


Everything from visual arts projects to woodworking and cooking projects can be found at the Ford County Fair 4-H building. Local 4-H’ers also have the opportunity to exhibit their livestock projects such as beef, swine, poultry and rabbits. Projects are on display until 1 p.m. Saturday.


“On the general project side, there is a wide variety of options,” explained Cara Thiems, program coordinator for Ford-Iroquois 4-H.


Thiems is very happy with the turnout this year and is just glad to be back at the fairgrounds this week as COVID restrictions limited activities during the past year.


“From the staff side and the feelings I get from 4-H’ers, they are just so excited to be back on the fairgrounds. Nobody got to experience a fair last year so we are super excited to give them the best possible experience.”


A virtual 4-H show was offered last year with a decent number of participants, although it was put together at the last minute. Numbers are much higher this year for the live fair.


The Ford County Fair this week is the first of many local fairs we plan to cover this summer during the CIFN Fair Central Tour, sponsored by: Compeer Financial, McLean County Farm Bureau, RA Seeding Solutions, Miller Farms, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Brandt.

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