Ready for showtime

Crews transform 40-acre fairgrounds
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Leader Photo by Scott Williams Bear Erdmann washes the outside of the tent Tuesday for his Nickel Pitch game, as final preparations wind down for the Shawano County Fair.

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Jennifer Bunner arranges the stuffed-animal prizes Tuesday at the Duck Pond game at the Shawano County Fair, which opens Wednesday.

Let the fun begin.

Crew members completed the final preparations Tuesday for the end-of-summer blowout of entertainment and friendly competition that is the Shawano County Fair.

The gates open at 5 p.m. Wednesday to signal the start of the county fair’s six-day exposition on the fairgrounds in Shawano.

“I love the fair,” said Bear Erdmann as he was setting up the colorful tent for his Nickel Pitch game on the midway.

Erdmann’s family has been offering fun games for Shawano County Fair crowds since he was a kid. Sweat dripped from his forehead Tuesday as he talked about how he looks forward each summer to seeing old friends and familiar faces.

“It comes once a year,” he said. “It’s like a big family reunion.”

With just hours until the first spectators arrive on the fairgrounds, vendors and volunteers were busy putting the finishing touches on carnival rides, food stands and other attractions covering the estimated 40-acre fairgrounds.

The Shawano Area Agricultural Society leases the county-owned property and organizes the county fair.

Pat Brusky, a member of the fair board, said getting the fairgrounds ready is a labor of love, from the livestock barns and performance stages to the picnic tables and even the trash barrels.

Brusky, who was using a front-end loader Tuesday to fill a sandbox for kids, said the fairgrounds is transformed in just a few days leading up to the opening ceremonies.

“The pre-fair is always fun,” he said. “It’s a little hectic, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s always fun.”

Final preparations took place Tuesday under sunny hot weather, and fair organizers were excited to hear forecasts for mild temperatures and clear skies in the days ahead.

Joe Kedrowicz, owner of Rainbow Valley Rides Inc., was supervising his crews as they assembled the Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and about 20 others rides on the midway. Everything was going smoothly, Kedrowicz said, and he was looking forward to seeing the crowds.

Shawano County Fair organizers are helpful and cooperative people who share Rainbow Valley’s simple philosophy of working hard and doing a good job, he said.

“You can’t ask for better people,” he said. “You get that down-home sort of feeling here.”