Oneida County Fair adds new events, brings back favorites and expects large crowds
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
Planning for the Oneida County Fair, which opens at Pioneer Park Aug. 4, began almost a year ago. Events were still being added to the lineup a week before opening day. Nancy Gehrig is in her fourth year as Fair Coordinator. For her it’s a labor of love.
“To me, in my heart, truthfully, it’s what brings our community together,” Gehrig said. “After all the work, seeing people coming in and meeting people they haven’t seen in years…. That’s what gives me the high to keep coming back.”
The McNaughton State Camp crews do the set up and tear down of the main tents. The fair wouldn’t happen without this group of guys, according to Gehrig. The camp is also donating several hand-made wood furniture items as raffle prizes. Raffle ticks are $5 each or five for $20.
Gehrig said since the fair moved to Pioneer park, attendance has increased from 6,000 to a record last year of 18,000. She hopes some of the new events this year will draw even larger crowds.
New this year is the American Indian Dance Exhibition. The local performers will be part of the Opening Ceremonies, which begin at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 4, and will demonstrate and teach various dancers until 7 p.m.
The Milwaukee Bucks Entertainment Group, which includes mascot Bango and a performance by the acrobatic dunk team, the Rim Rockers will take place Saturday, Aug. 6 from noon to 1 p.m.
The Family Area will include new events from the YMCA, the Amazing Zachman will perform and Home Depot will bring children’s projects.
The annual Friday Fish Fry at the Fair, sponsored by Fisher’s Resort will take place Aug. 5, 4-7 p.m. CT’s Blues and Brisket fair fundraiser is Saturday, Aug. 6 from 4-7 p.m. Both events take place next to the Hext Big Top Tent.
A FEW HIGHLIGHTS
Attendance is FREE
For a complete schedule, visit OneidaCountyFairWI.com
Milwaukee Bucks Entertainment Group
Pat Dineen Memorial Doxie Dash
Carnival rides (including wrist band days/times)
Parade of Breeds
Container Garden and Ugly Lamp contests
Equestrian Drill Team
Trolley service from parking area to fair
One point of pride for Gehrig is the fact that there is no admission to the fair. It’s free. That means, however, Gehrig spends a good deal of the year fundraising, to offset the financial contributions from Oneida County and the city of Rhinelander. And then there is the question of the fair’s future.
“We need electricity,” Gehrig said. “And we don’t have structural buildings, so we get by with tents and a hope and a prayer!”
The city and the fair board are in talks to potentially upgrade electrical service at Pioneer Park, but city officials are looking for a commitment that the fair will remain at the park for several years to come.
“As far as I’m concerned, it can stay at Pioneer Park until someone can help us with land,” said Gehrig. “We aren’t at 501(c)(3) so we don’t qualify for a lot of the grants from some of the bigger foundations. The only thing we can do is to rely on the city and county support.”
There is still time to sign up to volunteer by visiting OneidaCountyFairWI.com. Gehrig said anyone interested in helping with setup August 1-3 should “just show up,” and she’ll put them to work.