The center of the world might be found in Cole Camp as residents and visitors will descend upon the historic German Community for the Centennial Cole Camp Fair.
Event organizers have named this 100th Anniversary of the Fair “Our World’s Fair” and with events to honor both the heritage and history of the Fair there will be something for young and old to enjoy this weekend.
“I think what makes our fair so special is that it really is a community event,” Natalie Paxson said as she was working on the First United Methodist Church of Cole Camp’s parade float Saturday morning. “People plan their vacations and class reunions around the fair.
“Everybody comes home and it really is a family event,” she added. “It’s what we’ve all known since we were children.”
The fair, which runs Sept. 8 through the 10, will begin with a livestock show on Wednesday evening, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 in front of the bandstand on Highway 52 in Cole Camp.
“We wanted to bring the cattle show back down on Main Street where it used to be held,” Cristel Harms, treasurer of the Cole Camp Fair Executive Board said. “We’ve got a number of special events and celebrations planned and of course there are the floats.”
According to Harms, there was a float in the first Cole Camp Parade in 1916.
“What happened was a wife decided that she wanted to be in the parade,” Harms said. “So, she glued flowers all over her husband’s car to decorate it so it would be pretty as they rode in the parade.”
“I’m not sure what his reaction was to that,” she said with a laugh. “The floats have come a long way since then.”
Harms said between 10 to a dozen floats will be featured each day of the Fair.
“I really think the floats are what separates our fair from all the others in the area,” Paxson said. “We all spend lots and lots of hours working on them but the wonderful thing is that anyone of us would pick up our scissors and help anyone else from any organization if they needed it.”
Many of the floats are constructed on the backs of flatbed trailers and feature mechanical movement.
Made of wood, and metal or plastic frames, the forms are then covered in thousands of tissue paper flowers.
“I’ve done this a few times in my life,” Becky Camden, a volunteer working on the Partners in Education (PIE) of Lutheran Schools in Cole Camp said as she smiled while pleating another flower. “I think at this point I’m doing them in my sleep.
“I think I started helping to make them when I was 7 or 8 years old,” she added. “I’ve been doing it almost every year since.”
Camden said she timed herself earlier this summer while pleating the flowers adding that it takes her about 30 seconds per flower.
A five foot tall lemon meringue pie, which is the centerpiece PIE’s float will take an estimated 30,000 of the tissue paper flowers to complete.
“The first float we (PIE) ever made for the Fair was a cherry pie,” Harms said. “This year we wanted to do another pie themed float as a throw-back to our history.
“I don’t think there is really any rhyme or reason to what we came up with or how we do it,” she added. “Hopefully when it’s done it will look just like grandma’s table is going down the road.”
Memories of lunch at grandma’s table and the past will play a large role at this weekend’s Fair.
“The reason for the success of the Fair is it’s history and the commitment of the community and all the time and effort they put into the Fair each year,” Earl Theisen president of the Cole Camp Fair Executive Board said Monday by phone. “That’s the way it was 100 years ago and it’s still that way today; it’s because of the people and their hard work and dedication.”
“Everyone has put a lot of hard work and effort into this year’s fair to make it another memorable one,” he added. “We’ve invited all seven living Fair Presidents and the Fair Queens to come back and be recognized at a reception we will have, it’s a tribute to the past, but it’s a time to make memories too.”
The following press release is a schedule of activities and events for the 100th Cole Camp Fair.
The Cole Camp Fair opens on Thursday, Sept. 8, with judging of entries in all departments, a Future King & Queen Contest, teen contests, the coronation of this year’s Cole Camp Fair Queen, and the Grand Parade of Floats. Bandstand entertainment following the parade will be presented by the Sedalia Concert Band.
Friday, Sept. 9, brings adult and children’s games during the day, an antique & classic tractor parade beginning at 7 p.m. followed by the Grand Parade of Floats. Entertainment on the grandstand following the parade will be “Pastmasters”, a group of five musicians who entertain with oldies from the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s.
The final day of the fair begins early on Saturday, Sept. 10, with a 5-K Run/2 Mile Walk followed by a Kiddie Parade and Grand Parade of Floats at 10:00 a.m.
Other events during the day include a baby show (Legion Hall), a car show (Old Water Tower Park), the Loehnig Family German Band in the Jaycee Beer Garden, and a children’s pedal pull.
Saturday evening activities begin with an antique car parade at 7:00 p.m. followed by the Grand Parade of Floats. Free grandstand entertainment following the parade will feature the “Cedar Creek Band”, a classic country band from central Missouri.
The Jaycees Beer Garden will be open all three nights of the fair with live music until 1 a.m.
The Fun Time Shows carnival will be set up on the midway along Maple Street with rides and games. They will offer Pay One Price for rides all three days of the fair.
Local churches provide food and homemade pies throughout the fair as well as a Saturday morning breakfast.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.