But none of these days are when the fair actually
Much of the work to get the fair up and running starts weeks, even
months earlier in order for all the exhibits, livestock shows, and
special events to go off without a hitch.
When it comes right down to it, the fair began a year ago. That's
right, a year.
And, next year's fair begins in a few weeks.
The Fair takes the Logan County Fair Board
The Logan County Fair Board will meet soon after the close of the
2022 fair and discuss what to do in the next year? Board members and
others talk about what went right, what went wrong, what could have
been done differently. The format for the next fair is set, then the
hard work really begins.
The Fair takes office staff
About a month ahead of the fair opening, the Logan County Fair
Office opens for business. According to Allie Bode the four ladies
in the office - Bonnie Young, Emilie Young, Rachel Welker, and Bode,
stay hoppin’ from the first day until days after the fair is over.
All the open fair entries are handled by the staff in the office.
The staff takes the entry paper work and entry fees and records all
the participants for each exhibit. The staff also works with the
superintendents of each exhibit making sure those folks have what
they need to effectively manage their show.
Office staff also sees to the judges for the various open shows and
assures that grandstand events are scheduled and confirmed.
Then as the fair gets underway, the staff collects all the judging
results from each exhibit, organizes that information and records
it. Those records are shared with local media. Lincoln Daily News
publishes all the results from all the shows.
During the fair, Bode says that the staff at the office work
extra-long hours as they keep the doors open until after the closing
of the grandstand event each night.
For the ladies at the fair office it takes a lot of brain power to
get the fair going and keep it going throughout the week.
The Fair takes muscle
There is also a lot of brawn involved in getting ready for the fair.
The livestock barns as well as the exhibit barns must be cleaned and
set up for the shows, exhibits, and guests; not to mention for full
grounds maintenance and upkeep as tens of thousands of people visit
Often times, fair board member Mike Maske will be in the thick of
these activities. Pre-fair work led by Maske and others ranges from
setting up the gates and pens in the livestock barns, to cleaning
the exhibit barns and moving display cases into place for the
entries that will be placed in or on them during fair week. Daily
work intensifies during the fair to defend the title, "Illinois'
Best and Cleanest County Fair."
The Fair takes dedicated superintendents
Each judging event has at least one or two superintendents who keep
everything running smoothly on judging day. They too have records to
keep that they give to the fair office, ribbons to hand out, and
judges to accommodate.
The Logan County Extension Office staff are equally busy. According
to Carissa Davis there are 235 4-H members this year and most have
multiple entries at the Logan County Fair. Davis said the extension
office collects and gets the information 4-H entries recorded and
forwarded to the various exhibit and show superintendents. They also
collect results after the judging.
The 4-H superintendents play a big part in keeping the 4-H events
running smoothly. The superintendents secure the judges for
individual categories, organize the shows, record the ratings given
to each entry and assist with selecting State Fair delegates.
The Fair takes the super skills of the Extension Office and 4-H
One of the most beloved events of the fair is the annual 4-H
Scrambles Night. The extension office staff plan that event working
with participants, secure the animals and prizes. In addition, the
night includes the presentation of scholarship awards, the local
Hall of Fame Award, the parading of the previous year's calf
scramble steers and plaque awards.
What many may not know about the scrambles night is that the
application period for the youngsters opens in February of each
year. Davis said that many of the youngsters are there on that first
day to get their application in as there are a limited number of
spaces available for each animal category and no one wants to be
Davis and Amanda Gray are the primary contacts for the scramble with
a lot of help also coming from office staffer Sherri Bishop. They
assure that the applicants meet the requirements for participation.
And, when the world gets complicated, the ladies figure out how to
pivot quickly so as to keep the show intact. For the 2022 season
there can be no chickens at the Logan County Fair, not for judging
and not for the scrambles. The chicken scramble is for the youngest
of the competitors. Davis said that rather than disappoint the kids,
there will be a new version that includes an egg relay contest. Each
participant receives a special gift bag courtesy of the Logan County
4-H Foundation and its sponsors.
For the goat and calf scrambles the participants that catch an
animal keep it and are required to show it at the next Logan County
Fair. Those who catch a pig in the greased pig scramble also get to
keep their animal but are not required to show it the next year.
[to top of second column]
Davis said on the day of the scramble, which is
Wednesday, August 3rd, she and Gray will meet with all the
participants in the north end livestock show barn. The staff
explains the rules of each scramble and prepare participants on what
to expect. Afterward, the kids are lined up and paraded out to the
race track in front of the grandstand.
The Logan County Extension staff secure the animals for the
scramble. Davis said the goats and calves come from a variety of
suppliers; and the pigs primarily come from local hog producer Dave
Conrady. The livestock owners are reimbursed for their animals by
the various sponsors of the 4-H Scramble Night.
And then there's special people
Within the 4-H portion of the fair and the open portion, there are
many people who work hard to make their specific show the best it
can be. The superintendents have a huge responsibility within those
shows to assure that the judges are happy, the kids are happy, and
the visitors to the event are happy.
While they all work very hard at this, there are some
who go above and beyond.
For many years, Lincoln Daily News has enjoyed covering the Sheep
Shows because they are well organized and they are just
down-right-good-fun. The superintendents for the 4-H and Open Shows
on Thursday are John Coers, Jim and Jared Coers.
In addition to the regular judging there are special activities
started by John and Jared. John has been showing sheep for many
years and he and his family travel all around the state showing in
the open categories at various fairs. The Coers family also has
shown through multiple generations in the 4-H shows, and this year
have one 4-H member left who will be showing.
A few years back John and Jared decided they wanted to dress up the
show barn a bit... and that is how it all began.
The first thing they decided to do was create a nice looking area
for the photo opportunities for winners. Jared Coers handcrafted the
wooden Logan County Fair sign as a gift for John about six years
ago. The year gets changed out to keep it current. Parrs Greenhouse
of Mason City provides the beautiful flowers and greenery. Irwindale
Farms in the past have donated the corn stalks. John Coers noted
that it is a collaborative working together to make the Logan County
Sheep Shows special for all.
As a showman who has been to a lot of fairs, John wanted to find
other ways to make it fun and entertaining for the participants and
So a few years ago, the Coers’ began announcing the 'Grand Drives'
in “a crazy way.” Current pop music blares, a disco ball was even
incorporated the year Thunder by Image Dragons was played. The
audience is revved up to cheer each participant into the arena with
their winning sheep.
To cut loose even a little more, after all the serious work of
competition, John and Jared introduced the costume contest three
years ago. They started out with their own little skit where they
introduced “Betty and Ethel,” which evolved into a costume event
that includes any of the exhibitors regardless of age. The costumes
have proven to be the highlight of the day. John said that there is
not generally a specific theme to the event, but it is recommended
that the exhibitor include his or her sheep in the entry, and extra
points are awarded for using woolen items.
After all the fun and games it is time to eat. The superintendents
host a luncheon with what else but lamb being the main entrée. The
lamb brats are usually prepared by either Steve and Pam Schreiner or
Nuthatch Hill BBQ. The food is donated by the Schreiners, and John
and Annie Coers. Exhibitors bring a dish to pass in potluck fashion.
Generally there are around 75 to 100 people who are in attendance
for the meal and it is a great “family get together” to end the day.
Again, there is a lot of work that goes into getting a show like the
sheep show underway and successfully concluded at the end of the
day. John Coers said there are around eight official volunteers who
help with the show, but it is really a group effort that involves
everyone there to make it good. In addition to the three
superintendents, official volunteers include spouses Annie, Erin and
Mindy who keep the books and classes straight, and Steve and Pam,
who oversee the success of the meal.
The fair is a tremendous amount of work for every superintendent,
every fair board member and every staff person from the Logan County
Fair organization and from the University of Illinois Extension.
Without all these people, we would not have a fair, and without
their devotion and best efforts it would not be as good as it is
So, why? Why do people give so much of their time and their heart to
something that comes along only one week a year and then is gone?
While John and Annie Coers were the ones who answered this question
specifically, it stands to reason that the answer they gave is a
reflection of what each volunteer or staff member feels.
“All this is done for the kids,” said the couple. “We are all about
making memories and since we have “spiced” up the show, the kids
The Coers' also explained some of the other things they do to make
it more about the kids and promoting the community feeling of the
fair. “We are constantly asked in weeks before the fair what John
was going to have them do to get the lil' gift that we provide to
the 4-H sheep participants. It is usually an “info” hunt, like a
scavenger hunt, only the kids have to go around the fairgrounds and
find out who won visual arts, who is the queen, name a cattle or
swine exhibitor, and so on. It helps them to get out and see other
areas of the fair that they may not have taken an interest in
before. We have given gifts like T shirts, thermal cups, Indian
blankets, etc. We just want the kids to have fun and want to come to
the fair or at least take an interest. I believe we have achieved
that and look forward to it ourselves every year. To us, we feel it
means more to them to be a part of something and to look forward to
it from year to year.”
John concluded with a personal note, “We have raised sheep for over
40+ years, and dad raised them long before that. We have a vested
interest because it is our passion. We have seen what our children
have gained from it. Whether it be responsibility, talent, or
friends from near and far, they have something to remember as well
as what they have achieved or gained from raising and showing sheep.
So Thursday of the Logan County Fair is where the action is. We
encourage all to check it out!”
The above are all valued and important to what makes the Logan
County Fair great. There are many paid and volunteers who work hard
and with passion to help others have a great fair experience. We
hope you will see the efforts put forth and find some pleasure
attending our Logan County Fair too.