Annual Vinland Fair gets underway this week
There will be a familiar look to the 96th Annual Vinland Fair, but there certainly isn't anything wrong with that.
"There will just be a lot of good music, a lot of good food and a lot of good entertainment," said Mike Craig, who along with his wife, Julie, serve as presidents of the fair. "We're doing the same routine we've done for the last 10 or 15 years.
"Its a routine," said Craig. "People come from Baldwin, Lawrence and all around to get their kids involved. It's good family fun. Of course there's the heat and we certainly hope we can survive that. It's supposed to be hot. It sure would be nice to have some rain to cool things down."
This year's Vinland Fair starts Thursday and runs through its usual Saturday finale at the Vinland Fairgrounds, which is about four miles north and east of Baldwin. The fair kicks off Thursday around 2 p.m. and concludes Saturday evening. The usual events are in between (see schedule, page 9).
"We've got the bike races Friday and the turtle races Saturday as usual. We've got the big tractor pull Friday night which pulls in a lot of people," he said. "We've also got the band Crow Canyon on Friday night and they always pull in a big crowd, too. We always draw a big crowd for Friday night."
The fair continues to get more popular and the Friday gathering is always the biggest.
"It seems overwhelming sometimes," Craig said. "I had to park some cars last year so people could get in and out. Does that mean it's getting too big? I don't think so."
And even though most of the events at the Vinland Fair will be the same, there are some changes. Saturday's pet parade has been renamed in memory of its originators, Fred and Bernice Gottstein, who both passed away this last year. It's the 40th anniversary of the pet parade and there are some surprises planned.
"We do have a few changes with the pet parade honoring Fred and Bernice. We miss them. We miss Jerry Moore, too, who also passed away this year. They were all very involved with the fair," he said. "We've lost several this year. They were avid fair supporters, so they would have wanted it to go on."
Nancy Helm is the superintendent of the pet parade and she's the one that has put the changes in place.
"This is the 40th one and we're also doing it in memory of Fred and Bernie," said Helm. "They were the ones that co-founded it. Katharine Kelley had an old fair book and the fair in 1963 was the first one for the pet parade. The funny thing is the prize money for the parade is the same as it was then. But the kids certainly don't care."
Another change will be in the Sportsmanship Award. Previously there were two awards, one for a boy and one for a girl, but there will be just one for the 96th version.
"This year we're just giving one award and it will be called the Fred and Bernie Gottstein Memorial Award or words to that effect," said Helm.
Also planned is a look back through pictures at the parade, which is being put together by Lawrence Journal-World chief photographer Mike Yoder, a long-time Vinland Fair mainstay.
"Mike Yoder has been down here for the fair for years," said Helm. "He has several pictures from over the years that he's going to put in a display, which will be in the exhibition barn."
Although she wouldn't give details, there are some other plans as well.
"There will be some other surprises," she said.
Just before Saturday's finale with the 7:30 p.m. performance by the Witness band, one of the fair's most popular events will again take place. It will be at 7 p.m. and involves the coolest part of the fair.
"Of course we wrap it up with the ice cream contest and feed Saturday night which everyone seems to enjoy," said Craig.