TRACY, Mo. — A river’s contrariness isn’t about to wash out the planning mode for Northwest Missouri’s longest-running county fair.
The most recent floodwaters emptying out of the Platte River temporarily soaked the Platte County Fairgrounds in Tracy, Missouri. But organizers made the most out of a disagreeable situation by taking to their canoes, not just for a friendly race but to assess the amount of cleanup that lies ahead before the arrival of the 156th Platte County Fair from Wednesday, July 24, through Saturday, July 27. It is the longest-running county fair west of the Mississippi River, originating in 1858.
The optimism arises from an understanding of how the next-door Platte behaves in relation to the fairgrounds, according to board member and stockholder Brandon Edlin. In other words, two or three days of flooding from an up-and-down river will eventually equate into the same amount of time needed to dry out the low-lying grounds. The high hopes also stem from the knowledge that roads and bridges in the vicinity have been rebuilt since 1993.
“It was always a running joke that we’d do races if we’d get flooding,” Edlin told News-Press NOW on Monday. “It goes away pretty fast. This one was a little heavier than normal. Everything was fine. We just need a couple of good rains to wash down the dirt.”
The last time the river flooded the fairgrounds was in 1993, when waters lapped against the bottom of the Dirty Shame Saloon. Rain and high water postponed the 1965 fair until that September. A grasshopper plague held the event to just one day in 1875, while drought and the Great Depression limited the fair to one day in 1934.
Power washing will supplement any rains that fall between now and through the next six weeks, with some deposited trash and debris to be hauled away during an annual cleanup. Edlin said the board has settled on alternate dates in case the fair has to be moved.
“We’re prepared,” he said. “We’re going to have a little additional cleanup. We should be good.”
Advance precautions allowed officials to move kitchen equipment out of one eatery and into another building safe from the water. Edlin said there are enough volunteers to cover all necessary duties.
A total of $15,000 in work was completed this year to the Dirty Shame’s floor and stage.
The fair has become a important and proud staple for the county’s residents.
“It’s a family tradition,” said Edlin. “Some people use it as a family reunion. We will always continue on with this tradition.”
A total of 100 stockholders manage the annual program via a nonprofit association, with dependence on donations, sponsorships and revenue generated by various activities.