Bosque Farms to race toads, throw rolling pins at 73th Community Fair

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It's fair time again in the village of Bosque Farms, so round up the toads and get your rolling pin tossing arm into shape.

Marking its 73rd year, the Bosque Farms Fair will get underway on Friday, Aug. 3, with the toad races leaping off the starting line at 7 p.m. promptly.

The next day, Saturday, Aug. 4, is chock full of old fashioned fun, starting at 8 a.m.

This year, the longest running community fair in the country will see few changes to its events, choosing to stick with the community favorites.

One event the fair board did bring back this year is the decorated bicycle competition. Board President Cathy Sifford said the bikes will be in the parade as a new judged category. Another new category is animal, non-equine.

"So I could ride an ostrich?" Ron Keller asked, a Fair Board member.

The other board members seemed to think if the bird was cooperative, Keller could enter.

Keller said the additional category would give people a chance to show off their dogs, alpacas, and yes, maybe even ostriches to parade viewers.

There really will be alpacas in the parade from the village's own Cowboy Camelids Alpaca Ranch. Owners Bill and Angela Richardson are setting up an enclosure for the alpacas at the fair so folks can come by and pet and hang out with the fluffy, big-eyed animals.

The "Just For Fun" car show marks its 13th year and will feature the perennial favorite People's Choice Award. But this year, organizers Ron and Mary Ann Keller have asked three prominent members of the community to also name a favorite — Mayor Bob Knowlton, Fire Chief Spencer Wood and Police Chief Greg Jones will hand out awards to their personal picks.

One event that has been taken off the schedule for Sunday is the 4-H Open Horse Show, Sifford said.

"There will be something to watch, possibly team roping," Sifford said. "But the horse show has been canceled."

The entry fee for livestock exhibitors this year is school supplies, Sifford said, bur no one will be turned away for lack of the "fee."

And boundaries for the livestock and indoor exhibits have been eliminated this year, she said. Used to be, an exhibitor had to be from Bosque Farms to enter an exhibit in the fair.

"But every year, we expanded the boundaries a little more and a little more, until we decided to just get rid of them," Sifford said.

Board member Amy Thoms said they are still accepting items for the auction. The live auction is the fair's major fundraiser every year, so it can be held the following year. Thoms said auction items can be dropped off at Cowboy Hall on Thursday or Friday.

The board members said the Bosque Farms fair is an event the whole family can enjoy — from newborns to grandparents, there is something for everyone.

While the fair is celebrating its 73rd year, its theme this year is a nod to the state's centennial birthday — "73 Years of Fun and a 100 Reasons to Celebrate."

And attendees won't need to cough up hundreds to come enjoy the fun. There is no entry fee for the fair, and with the exception of the vendors, all the events and fun are free.

So turn the kids loose in the free money pit, on the jumpers and see if they can make it up the greased pole.

"You will see things here you won't see at other fairs, such as the toad races and greased pole climb," Ron Keller said. "I bet we're the only car show with a tractor category."

And attendees will also get to see the faces of the chile cook-off judges turn various colors, from pink to delightful shades of purple.

"You were kind of a purple last year," Thoms said to Ron Keller.

"I've somehow become a permanent judge," he said. "I do get some of my helpers from the police department, willingly or unwillingly."

Mary Ann Keller said the fair brings about a real sense of community.

"We're an all volunteer group and anyone with a passion can come in and take ownership of a portion of the fair," she said. "If someone is passionate about the toad races, they can have at it. We're passionate about the car show, so we'll always do it."

For years now, Brad Fitzgerald has been providing live music for the fair bake walk, Mary Ann Keller said.

"And he does it for the love of it," she said.

Fitzgerald plays the guitar and banjo, sings and generally makes the walk a lively, fun time. He also makes sure everyone wins something.

Board members agree that the work on the fair is all done from the heart, by the community, for the community.

Denise Black moved to Bosque Farms about six years ago from California.

"Events out there are big and fast. You don't know anybody. Here, people wave at you," Black said.

Thoms said the fair definitely has a slower pace.

"Nobody is going to run over grandma in the parking lot," she said. "It's very sweet. That's the cool thing."

If fair-goers feel the need to stretch their legs, on Saturday morning they can visit the growers market at the Woodall property and the crafts fair that will be in full swing at the community center just up the street.

"North Bosque Farms is going to be hopping this weekend," Ron Keller said with a laugh.

The annual parade begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on the South Loop.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.