Before he started volunteering, Niles had no idea how much effort went into putting the fair together. After all the hard work, it’s “kinda neat” to be part of something that has been around for 125 years, he said.
“That’s a long time,” Niles, 59, said. “It’s a milestone.”
As one of the last town fairs around, the Afton fair provides a certain small-town charm that isn’t always present in larger fairs, said Rhonda Barriger, director of the fair board. She agreed that it has sometimes been a struggle to stay afloat. To her, the 125th anniversary represents “a lot of hard work and trying to keep something going in a bad economy.”
“I couldn’t just stand by and watch it die,” Barriger said. “Fairs are a dying thing. But we are a small, hometown community trying to pull it together. We’ve done a lot of work. We weren’t going to give up on it.”
Not giving up meant seeking help from “great” sponsors and supporters, such as Chobani and local small businesses, Barriger added.
In addition to bringing back the midway, the fair board has worked to bring exciting acts to the fair for the big anniversary, Barriger said. The fair will open Wednesday with the Community Firemen’s Parade, followed by a fireworks display at dusk. The midway and rides will open at 4 p.m. that day, she said.
On Thursday, the horse racing will kick off at noon, followed by a rodeo. The Afton Fair is one of the few remaining fairs around to have harness racing, Barriger said.
Friday night, I-88 Speedway Racing will take place, and an Off the Street Truck Pull will be held Saturday.
“We’ve worked very hard,” Barriger said. “Everyone in the community looks forward to the fair.”