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Fair-goers delight in sights, sounds of big event after skipping 2020

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HARTINGTON — Fairgoers line up outside the grandstand, waiting for the big show.

The smell of roast beef drifts from the food stand.

Colorful yellow lights blink from the midway.

A calf moos.

Youth proudly wearing the 4-H clover make their way back and forth across the fairgrounds. Even those mucking animal stalls smile.

The sights, sounds and smells of the Cedar County Fair were sorely missed by most last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s event featured only 4-H shows with no live audience.

The 2021 fair made up for what was missed in a big way, said Angie Sudbeck, treasurer of the Cedar County Ag Society.

“I would say it’s actually bigger than normal. We’re trying to get back into it the best way we can,” she said.

After most public events were canceled last year, people are enjoying getting back to the events they enjoy, said Rusty Flamig, secretary of the Cedar County Ag Society.

The weather was excellent for this year’s fair and the entertainment outstanding, he said, with the fair re-branding the live music to “Cedar Stock” – a three-night concert experience featuring Lanco, Jimmie Allen and Chris Lane. Lane replaced Gabby Barrett who was set to perform Sunday night but canceled due to illness.

The Cedar County Fair also featured the midway carnival after its absence since 2018. Other fair events brought in crowds like the free barbecue and rodeo, he said.

The Cedar County Fair also saw a record number for exhibits of all kinds, Sudbeck said.

June Schindler of Obert said this year’s goat show featured 25 animals.

“It keeps getting bigger and better,” she said.

Her son, Aiden, showed six goats, and June worked as a goat superintendent for the fair – helping those who are new and answering any questions.

4-H youth show animals ranging from dairy cattle to rabbits and everything in between. Schindler said a record number of nearly 100 chickens were showcased at this year’s fair.

Schindler said she appreciated that youth were still able to show their animals and submit their exhibits at the 2020 fair despite the pandemic. This year, the full experience included utilizing the new animal barn and show arena.

Last year, spectators were allowed to watch livestock shows online, while this year, fans showed their support live. Trophies made a comeback this year as well, which is something that was missed about last year’s show, she said.

Being able to show support is so important and one of the hallmarks of the Cedar County Fair, said Pastor Amanda Talley.

“It’s such a supportive atmosphere to cheer on everybody making efforts out here,” she said.

Talley and her congregation at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hartington served up hot beef sandwiches, potato salad and homemade pie at the fair food stand.

The church has been operating the stand since the 1930s and Talley points to historical pictures that line the walls.

“When it started all those years ago, it was just an open building with hay bales around it. In that picture it shows how they used to butcher chickens to serve,” she said with a smile.

One thing that’s remained the same over the years is the dedication of the congregation with “all hands on deck” to pull off the event each year, Talley said.

“People are ready to be out,” she said of the crowds they served. “Everybody’s excited to be back.”

The church finds the fair to be the perfect event to serve its neighbors.

“It’s all about food and it’s all about community,” Talley said. “The big events are coming together to eat and then coming together for entertainment and then seeing all the projects that have been worked on all year.”

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