Over 9,000 people attended the Daviess County Lions Club Fair last year, with numbers being higher than in years past. This year, 4H and FFA weigh-ins begin Tuesday, with the fair and carnival running Wednesday, July 10 through Saturday, July 13. While the draw to carnival rides, monster trucks and agriculture brings people from in and around the state of Kentucky each year, it is what the Lions Club gives back to the community that stands out the most.
Fair Board Secretary Joan Hayden said, first and foremost, the fair has established itself as a family-friendly event and has added additional events and activities this year to continue to foster that sense of family.
The fair saw an increase in numbers of individuals and families attending last year, which was evident in the nearly-full monster truck arena.
“Our numbers were up last year and we hope they will continue to grow this year,” Hayden said.
“There were 5,000 that night for monster trucks. We hope to fill it [the arena] up again.”
The Monster Truck Show will be held on Thursday evening this year. According to Hayden, Fireworks over the Fair, which also began last year, went over so well that it will be held again this year on Friday night, July 12.
“Those were big hits last year, so they are bringing them back,” Hayden said. “We’ve added a few new events this year, including pony rides and a petting zoo to keep the fair family-friendly.”
Hayden said the fair will also offer First Bite Fishing Tanks, which she said feature a large fishing tank full of fish as well as instructors to teach children the skills involved in fishing.
Although Philpot East, the voting district along the KY-54 corridor where the fair resides, voted in approval of becoming a wet precinct last year, the annual Daviess County Lions Club Fair will not be incorporating a temporary liquor license for the venue. Hayden said the decision to not sell alcohol was made in the interest of maintaining a family-friendly environment.
“Alcohol sales are now legal in that precinct, but we do not hold a license and do not want a license for the fair,” Hayden said. “We do not want to sell alcohol at the fair because it is a family-oriented event. The only way we will get a license is for a concert, not the fair.”
Hayden said the fair is also adding new events in the interest of appealing to a more diverse group of patrons.
“This year we do have a garden tractor pull on Saturday night,” Hayden said. “That’s a new event that will bring out a different crowd of people. That’s what we’re trying to do, bring out different groups of people on top of what we already have.”
The Daviess County Lions Club owns the grounds the fair is located on and considers themselves a “working club.” The work to prepare for the fair continues throughout the year as Lions Club members keep the grass mowed, maintain the grounds and paint the buildings.
Some buildings are rented out when they are not having the fair including local archery clubs who use the buildings for practice in the winter. Those students then volunteer at the fair in return for the use of the building space.
While the fair is their most important event of the year, the Daviess County Lions Club is primarily a service organization whose main mission is to help those in need with eye care.
“Our community service is putting on the fair for the community,” Hayden said. “The money we make over and above expenses and maintaining our grounds goes back into the community for eye care and to help other nonprofits here in town. We help people that need glasses, an appointment or even surgery. We give other benefits also, but our main benefit is eye care.”
In order to have a successful fair and be able to give back to the community, it takes a large investment on the part of Lions Club members, supporters and their community sponsors.
“It costs over $90,000 to put on a four-day fair,” Hayden said. “We could not have this fair if it were not for our sponsors and supporters. One of our big sponsors this year is Owensboro Health — they are sponsoring the carnival. You pay one price at the gate and everything else is free, but the food you buy.”