Forty eight years ago, the Smithton Town and County Fair began as a way for the youth of Pettis County to highlight their livestock and agricultural successes.
That is still true today but event organizers have worked hard to make the fair not only a youth showcase event but also three days of family fun for the community.
“Forty-eight years ago I wanted to have a hog show,” founding Fair Board Director R.D. Kahrs said. “Elroy Lemke told me they used to have fairs in Smithton, but it probably couldn’t be done anymore.
“That made me a little mad and I wanted to prove that I could,” Kahrs said. “So I borrowed some like stock panels from Wes Hayes and Maurine Bluhm and we had the kids bring their hogs and cattle, and we put on a fair.”
The tradition continues today.
The first Smithton Fair made $400. Kahrs and his wife Mary Jane and their family and friends did much of the work in the first few years.
“About three or four years after the first one, our friend Norma Jean Bremer came on the Board and she has been a part of the Fair ever since then,” Kahrs added.
The fair is now a three-day event. This year it is July 9 through the 11.
The Directors have kept the more popular events including the tractor pull and kids pedal pull, the super farmer competition, livestock exhibits and children’s games as well as the Miss Pettis County Queen competition.
“This year we added a new event, the skid loader rodeo,” Kahrs said. “We thought it would be something different that people might enjoy.”
The rodeo begins at 5 p.m., July 11th. There is a $10 dollar entry fee and contestants must be 18 years or older to participate. First place will win $75 in the competition.
The super farmer competition, the pig dressing competition, the auctioneer’s bid calling contest and the tractor pull also have entry fees of $10 dollars or less.
“We try to have as many free events as possible for everyone,” Kahrs said. “We want families to be able to come out and just be able to have a good, safe time and enjoy themselves.”
The only event that has an actual admission fee is the tractor pull on Saturday night. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children 6 through 12. The tractor pull starts at 7 p.m.
Thursday’s activities begin with the art, craft and flower show at 9 a.m. in the multipurpose room at the Smithton High School. At 6:30 p.m., the parade will make its way from Washington Street to Sassafras Street to the school grounds.
Following the parade is the Miss Pettis County Queen Contest. Four young women will compete for the title. The winner will go on to represent Pettis Country in the Missouri State Fair Queen Competition.
Following that event are children’s games and the auctioneer’s bid contest.
“We’ve always done real well with the bid contest, “Kahrs said. “A lot of businesses and individuals provide some really nice items for the contest every year.”
The money raised from that, the pie auction and the concession stand is used in many ways. The primary one is a scholarship fund for Smithton graduates who attend State Fair Community College.
The Fair Board of Directors has given $5,000 in scholarships for the last three years. Ten seniors are awarded a $500 scholarship.
Friday will see the swine show at 9 a.m. and the children’s pedal pull and tractor pull begin at 7 p.m.
Saturday’s events begin at 7 a.m. with the barbecue contest in the Smithton City Park. The livestock show begins at 9 a.m.
The evening begins with the skid loader rodeo at 5 p.m., as does the pie-baking contest. The ice cream freezing contest is held at 6 p.m. and the pie auction starts at 7 p.m.
“As far as I know we are the only fair anywhere that gives away free pie and homemade ice cream to everyone who would like some.” Kahrs said. “There are a lot of good bakers in this community and we always have some good pies up for sale and to give away.”
The fair concludes with the children’s games, super farmer competition and pig dressing competition on Saturday night.
“We just really hope everyone comes out to the fair and has a good time,” Kahrs added. “We couldn’t continue to do this without the help of all of our sponsors and the community members who come. We truly appreciate their support.”