Five things to know about the Rock County 4-H Fair

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Jonah Beleckis
Saturday, July 22, 2017

JANESVILLE—The 88th Rock County 4-H Fair opens next week, and thousands of people and animals are expected to migrate to the fairgrounds for the six-day event.

The fair kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday with cake and visual arts judging and ends at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 30, with bull riding at the grandstand stage.

Here are five things to know before the fair begins:

1. Adult tickets bought after July 15 are $10 per day instead of $8.

Randy Thompson, president of the Rock County 4-H Fair Board, said expenses have continued to rise, and the fair board has not visited the subject of ticket prices for "quite a few years.”

Raising prices will help the fair balance its books, Thompson said. The fair made a small profit last year after losing more than $260,000 over the five prior years.

Thompson said 65 percent to 70 percent of the fair's revenue comes from gate receipts.

Fair officials have experimented with charging extra for shows in the grandstand. Thompson said that had only limited success, so they decided to return to free grandstand acts.

Season passes for adults are $35 and $15 for children ages 7 to 12. A single-day ticket for a child is $5.

Children younger than 7 are allowed in for free.

Adult tickets bought before July 15 were $8. With attendance down last year partly because of the weather, Thompson said he hoped more people would buy advance tickets this year.

2. Weather can make the fair experience pleasant or trying.

Thompson said the weather looks like it will be much better this year.

The AccuWeather forecast shows high temperatures ranging from 78 to 83 degrees throughout the week with a “strong” thunderstorm possibility only on Thursday.

3. The talent contest returns to the grandstand stage at 8 p.m. Thursday.

The group that won last year's inaugural talent contest went on to earn second place in the Wisconsin State Fair's contest, Thompson said.

The fair currently has 23 registered acts. Last year's roster featured a variety of talents, Thompson said, including some dance and singing routines.

“It's growing in popularity as far as home-grown talent,” he said.

The winner in the team division is eligible to compete at the State Fair.

4. Bull riding was offered a few years ago and will be back this year after a hiatus.

The Rice Bull Riding Company show is the last event of the fair at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 30.

Thompson said fair officials brought it back to diversify the entertainment options.

After the bull riding will be barrel racing, in which a horse and rider are timed as they navigate a maze.

5. Educational agriculture offerings have expanded this year.

One exhibit that started last year will introduce more animals, including baby lambs and baby pigs, Thompson said.

The Ag Business Council of Rock County also continues to expand its tent. One highlight is the corn box, which is like a sand box for kids but is filled with kernels of corn.

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