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Friday, May 6, 2016

Phil's final act was a doozy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I've gotta tell you - I CAN get enough.

What I couldn't do was get to it all.

The Clay County Fair wrapped up a record-setting nine-day run on Sunday and, as I collapsed on my living room sofa Sunday night I realized that I hadn't seen it all.

Despite my daily attendance, miles spent roaming the grounds, and tastes of countless fair food delicacies, I didn't get to experience all that the Clay County Fair has to offer.

I'm left with plenty on my "must-do" list for next year.

And, isn't that the way it should be?

A good fair leaves the crowd wanting more - more time, more laughs, more fair food.

It was a spectacular fair and there's no one I'm happier for than outgoing fair manager Phil Hurst.

I don't know if he'll admit this, but Phil put his absolute heart and soul into making this fair, his last at the helm, super-duper extra special. Call it his "going away" gift to the community and the fair-goers.

He sweated every detail. Months before, I found him in his office, working the phone lines, leaning on contacts, crossing his fingers and calling in chips to get the very, very best line-up for the grandstand stage. It was a moving target, as bands opened up, acts moved their touring schedules, and very large amounts of money were negotiated.

Well, judging from the jam-packed grandstands, I would say he hit his target. I haven't seen this much excitement over a concert line-up in years.

The free shows and strolling entertainers were important to him as well. He really wanted people to be surprised by the high level of entertainment they could get with their fair admission ticket.

And, how about that Grandpa's Barn?

After a successful run in 2010, the barn expanded into some pretty nice digs this year. The hordes of little ones with their parents, who were enthralled by the array of animals there was pretty strong evidence that baby animals are cool no matter how old you are.

Midway through the fair, I ran into Phil. He looked exhausted. I told him he needed to get home at a decent time that night, get to bed, and rest up. His answer was indicative of the heart he puts into the effort.

"I know I should, but I just can't do that. I'd hate for something to happen and me to be at home in bed."

As if to give a benediction to the fair's place as a wholesome, fun-filled, life affirming event, I smiled as the gray clouds parted at roughly 6:25 p.m. on Sunday. After a day that threatened rain, but didn't deter visitors, Mother Nature herself was giving the fairgoers a beautiful evening - just in time for a topflight concert.

Phil will be handing over the reins to incoming fair manager Jeremy Parsons when November rolls around. Jeremy is going to do a bang up job. He's going to put his own stamp on the fair, while respecting the traditions that make it great.

The fair board and all those many volunteers were, as always, unbelievable. They made all the moving parts operate so smoothly.

But this fair, this year, belong to Phil Hurst.

It was a final act worthy of the heart and soul he put into it.

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Kudos to Phil. Thanks for the memories!

-- Posted by Molly Weasley on Tue, Sep 20, 2011, at 6:47 AM

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Paula Buenger