It’s quiet now on Pine Street in Rochester. The roaring of engines, the buzzing of chainsaws, and the loud and rowdy country music have been replaced by the sound of crickets, remaining only in the echoes of our minds. The fairgrounds are empty, except for maybe a few scattered skeletons of the fair’s infrastructure, some tire tracks in the dirt, and a volunteer or two finishing the remainder of the cleanup after another Rochester Country Fair wrapped up Sunday night.
This year, a lot of new memories were made for area residents and families, a lot of smiles and laughs were had, especially on Thursday, August 13, which saw a record turnout in numbers, says Julie Koczera, co-chairman of the Country Fair Committee.
“The Thursday truck pull went incredibly well,” said Koczera. “It was really extremely well-attended.”
Aaron Norcross Jr. brought in a great crowd, Koczera said. “He did a phenomenal job under the big tent. We have actually invited him back for next year. We want to keep him.”
Looking back over the past weekend, Koczera said the wrestling was one of the highlights, as it usually is, and next year the committee will try to add a cage match in addition to the traditional matches.
“We’re already lining it up,” said Koczera. The fair might be over, but there is no pause between fairs. Just as soon as Sunday night falls, the committee is already starting on next year’s fair.
It wasn’t sunny for the fair for the entire weekend though, figuratively speaking. We all know how sunny it really was Saturday and Sunday and how stinking hot it felt. Koczera said the heat on those two days kept a lot of the crowd at home, in the shade, in their swimming pools, in their air-conditioned homes, and at the beach.
“Saturday and Sunday were not so good,” said Koczera. “So now we’re in the process of asking, how bad did we do? It was equivalent to a rainy weekend,” said Koczera about the heat.
So it was a bit of a tough weekend for the Rochester Country Fair folks. People did turn out for the woodsmen show Sunday afternoon, Koczera said, despite how hot it was beneath the sun sitting on the bleachers.
“You do the best you can, given any weather conditions,” said Koczera, although it was even too hot for the reptiles to come to the fair, so the reptile show had to be canceled. “All things considered, it was still nice to see people show up.”
Koczera said the Country Fair Committee will likely have to hold a couple more fundraising events to make up for the loss caused by the heat because the committee wants to add even more fun events for the kids next year. The fair might not have a carnival or a midway, as Koczera pointed out, but the committee focuses on how to make the fair more fun each year without making it more expensive for the fairgoers.
Despite the weather, the committee pulled off another great year for the Rochester Country Fair. The people on the committee, as well as the volunteers, said Koczera, are what make the fair what it is year after year. Some, Koczera mentioned, even take their vacations from work just so they can help out.
“Without them we’d never get off the ground,” said Koczera, who has served on the Rochester Country Fair Committee since the very first country fair – 16 years ago. “Sometimes I have some tough years, but when you work with such a great committee – friends – we do it for each other and the smiles of all the kids and people that come here. That’s why we come here.”
By Jean Perry