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The 70th Annual Yuma County Fair Returns to Traditional Dates
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Back for 2022 and celebrating their 70th year, the Yuma County Fair ran March 29th through April 3rd. The fair hosted a popular Eagles tribute band, a demolition derby, and exhibits including livestock, 4H and FFA exhibitors, Home Economics, Fine Arts, Horticulture, Floral Design, and of course, a carnival.

Admission for 12 and up was $7, $5 for ages 6-11, and those 5 and under admitted free. On opening day, a Tuesday, admission was only $2 for ages 6 and up.

The Demolition Derby held Wednesday evening was available to fair attendees at no additional charge.

With an appropriate theme of “New Beginnings,” the “Country Fair with a Desert Flair” included the Freckle's petting zoo, pony rides, and a Tiny Tots Ride Area for the smallest attendees. The carnival was provided by Brown's Amusements of Mesa, Ariz., operated by family owners Sherry and Danny Brown. Among the most popular rides were the 3-abreast carousel, the Freakout, the Music Express, Coaster, and the Zipper. Smaller kids could enjoy a Mini-Himalaya, the Caterpillar, and the Turtle Train. On March 31st, the carnival offered two-for-one rides on its attractions. Pre-sale tickets for the carnival were completely sold-out weeks before the event ran.

But the most popular ride by far, Yuma County Fair marketing coordinator Frances Garcia reports, was “a new Avengers ride. We had four new rides in all from Browns, but that was extremely popular. The lines were so long for that one, even on the weekdays the lines were crazy for it. People just loved it. That was a real standout for us.”

At the return of the country fair last month, the Yuma Rotary sold popular full meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Among the most popular exhibits were adorable bunnies, needle point exhibits, and an open photography competition.

Along with that tribute band, The Outlaw Mariachi played on the fair's main stage April 3rd, offering plenty of musical excitement. Also on the main stage were Tyzen the hypnotist; a popular pig racing event, Swifty Swine Racing Pigs, an electronic violinist, and both country and blues music as well as the Eagles tribute band.

The Puppets and Players Little Theater was an appealing show for young kids and their families.
Leapin' Louie Cowboy Comedian, and Lanky the Clown were among the draws for Guido's Family Stage and Strolling Entertainment.

In the Theater Building, fair attendees enjoyed a combination fantasy and science display called Wizard's Challenge! The Magic of Rafael - Rafael was also held here, blending comedy with magic in an interactive show. And speaking of interactive, the fair also offered A World of Juggling, an experience that allowed participants to receive a hands-on demonstration of juggling as well as learning the history of juggling arts.  

Overall, the fair attendance figures hovered around 15,000 daily, with total attendance at around 150,000. The event was held at the Yuma County Fairgrounds.

Garcia says “We were very happy with the community support overall, and it was overwhelming really how many showed up for the fair and gave us positive feedback.” She notes that promotion for the fair was done through a variety of methods including a billboard on the fairgrounds itself and social media. “We did Facebook, Twitter, commercials on television and on radio. We did the commercials in both English and Spanish and they were very successfully in promoting the fair's return.”

Along with the new carnival rides Garcia mentioned, the fair offered a new way to experience the vendors and food. The fair exclusively used debit and credit cards for the first time ever, making this the first event that was not cash-only, according to Garcia.

“That really was convenient. And after the pandemic, everyone, the commercial and food vendors, were just excited to be there. We had turkey legs again, which were very popular. We had those in the past, but of course not during the pandemic, and they had not been with us the year before the pandemic either. We added shaved ice this year which also did just great.”

She adds that “Honestly over all we were just happy to have all the exhibitors back, most of the ones we'd had in the past we had again, except for a few that had closed their doors. The food and commercial vendors did really well but the rides were the big thing this year, everyone enjoyed them.”

There were a few other differences as well. Commemorating the fair's 70th anniversary, there was a T-shirt sale commemorating the event. And, at the fair, there was an exhibition displaying the fair “from its inception to now. We were able to display photographs from the very beginning of the fair until today. People really responded to the exhibit and were very respectful of it walking through as well.”

While the county fair had not been held since 2019 due to the pandemic, last October there was a smaller event held on the fairgrounds, the Yuma County Fair Fall Fest. That event had live music, food vendors, a Demolition Derby, and some carnival rides, as well as an evening performance from Chayce Beckham of American Idol. But this full-fledged late March return was an exceptional success, as Garcia reports.

According to fair board president Donny Covey “Fair time is for catching up with old friends…people enjoying all the wonderful food our vendors offer…life getting back to what we were used to.”
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