The 2012 Oneida County Fair kicked off with a bang Thursday evening, as more than 3,000 enthusiastic fair goers filled up Rhinelander’s Pioneer Park on the opening day of the four-day event.
The fair officially opened at 5 p.m. with a flag raising ceremony, and the park was soon bustling with activity, as many families took advantage of the carnival wristband offer. Lines for ride wristbands were overwhelming for awhile, leading fair organizers to bring in extra help to alleviate the gridlock.
Also new to this year’s fair was the Gene Shepard-inspired act put on by Rhinelander actors Jerry Shidell and Steve Richardson. Their first presentation at 6 p.m. sold out in a matter of minutes, causing the duo to add an extra, unannounced show at 7 p.m. That show, too, was sold out.
“For a first time doing anything like this, it was great,” said Shidell, who played the role of Hodag patriarch Gene Shepard in the presentation. “People were really getting into it, which was giving us even more energy to put on a great show for them. It was a lot of fun.”
The main stage entertainment venue was also busy, as local favorite Scott Kirby and the ’50s Fair Play Band delighted the audience with musical entertainment. By far the most popular portion of the evening was the carnival, provided by Spooner-based K&M Amusements. Despite some opening night hiccups which led to a couple rides being out of commission during a portion of the evening, the crowd was generally happy and having fun.
The Oneida County Fair continues through the weekend. Friday and Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., with the event concluding Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.