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Ozark Empire Fair Puts on Last Finishes, Ready for 75th Year

The Ozark Empire Fair begins on Friday, July 29 and runs through August 7.  Although it’s almost a week and a half long event, people working the fair will have been there for much longer.  KSMU’s Scott Butler reports on the behind the scenes preparation.

[Sound: truck carrying equipment]

As a truck passes by inside the fairgrounds, others are putting on the finishing touches for their work stations.  Carnival rides and games are all set up and the people operating the food stands are cleaning their areas getting ready for this year’s fair.

[Sound: running water]

Shawn Nichols washes his hands at his French fry and corn dog stand.  He’s the manager for this stand and has been at the fair for about a week and a half now setting up.  He said he’s helped to set up the seating areas and post signs around the fair.  His food stand has a variety of items.

“We will be selling Italian and polish sausage, corn dogs, cheeseburgers.  We do nachos and soda too,” he said.

Nichols says the stand also sells French fries and cheese steaks.  Although Nichols runs that particular food stand, all the food stands and seating arrangements were under the orders of Lamar Miller.  He’s behind the food management and beautification of the fair.  He says he makes sure his workers are keeping their area clean and sanitized as much as possible.

“I manage food trailers and then I’m in charge of all seating areas and rest areas and photo ops and other stuff out here,” he said.

Miller has also been at the fair for almost a week already, and doesn’t see a day off in the near future.

“Every day. Every day. Lots of hours and this is a big fair for us so we come in here early to set up, to get everything ready.  Unlike most fairs, we will tear down on a Sunday night and open on a Tuesday and you don’t have the time,” he said.

[Sound: air pump running]

As an air pump continues to pump air into the aired-up obstacle course, other carnival games are ready for action.  Most of the rides have made their test runs, officials say.  The last touches made at this year’s fair are made on the food stands and seating areas.  Officials say they really want to focus on the cleanliness of the fair.

For KSMU News, I’m Scott Butler.