Heat affects attendance, sales at fair

ARGOS — If it seems like there’s been less traffic at the Marshall County 4-H Fair this year, blame the heat, said fair board president Dick Markley Wednesday.
“The weather is affecting the fair,” said Markley. “I’m not seeing as many people out, and some food vendors I’ve talked to have said they have had lower sales (than in past years).”
Betty Berkeypile, of Plymouth, co-owner of the Taco Garden truck at the fair, said that her sales have not necessarily gone done, but she has noticed that people are shying away from ordering hot food.
“I think they are not eating as much,” said Berkeypile. “I’ve been selling more salads and less hot foods. And we’ve gone through more iced tea than I’ve ever gone through here before.”
“I think the heat’s been a factor,” commented Paul Gormley, who runs Jake’s Italian Grill at the fair.
Gormley said that he believes the weather and also the economy are making some people want to stay home instead of go to the fair. He said he saw low attendance at the St. Joseph County fair as well this year.
Markley said that no livestock have been sent home due to heat, but the fair board has discussed the possibility.
“My biggest concern is the beef,” said Markley. “I evaluated (the heat situation) a week ago, and the board decided to allow generators for additional fans if the heat got above 85 degrees. We don’t have enough power (at the fairgrounds) to support big fans, but people will be allowed to bring generators. So far, we’ve been fortunate — on hot days we’ve had a good breeze.”
As fairgoers wander the grounds, continuous announcements can be heard over the PA system, reminding people to keep their animals and themselves hydrated. Markley said a misting station had been set up near one of the restrooms for people who feel they are becoming overheated.
“I think we’ve done a good job of managing the heat,” said Markley. “It’s been extremely hot, a lot hotter than last year, but I’ve seen temperatures in the past (during fair week) of more than 100 degrees.”
Staying safe in the heat, continued Markley, is mostly common sense.
“I’ve seen a lot of kids rinsing their steers off to cool them down — there’s a lot of things you can do about the heat,” said Markley.
The Argos Fire Department has been spraying down the drives each morning and afternoon to cut down on dust. Less dust, said Markley, makes it easier for people to breathe and easier to keep animals clean.