Bradley County went 35 years without a community fair. That is until nine local Ruritan Clubs, including the Harrison Ruritan Club, stepped in and saved the day.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the event they created: the Foothills Country Fair, frequented by attendees from both sides of the county line.
"We saw it as an opportunity to create a community fair for Bradley County; we see it as a community service," said two-time past president and active member of the Harrison Ruritan Club Jim Holcomb. "Anybody that likes a fair should check it out, whether they live near Bradley County or not."
This year's fair, to be held at the Tri-State Exhibition Center Thursday-Saturday, July 25-27, includes everything from petting zoos to the "world's largest pinball machine" to a demolition derby to pageants to a delicious barbecue bash.
The Kansas City Barbecue Society is coming back for its second year at the fair, with teams from all over cooking for a shot at the grand champion title for best barbecue.
"Last year, we had the third-largest barbecue in the state in the number of teams that came to compete," said Nancy Alford, who heads up the event along with her husband and president of the fair, Louie Alford. "This year we are expecting pretty much the same number."
Also a big draw to the community fair is the headlining musical entertainment - Ricky Skaggs, Mustang Sally and Rick Dellinger - this year.
"We've got a tremendous act coming in - Rickey Skaggs," said Louie Alford. "And we've got 60-65 vendors that people can walk around and see."
Money raised from the fair goes back into the local Ruritan clubs based on how many hours each one puts into the event, said Holcomb. Harrison Ruritan Club will use any money it receives to help fund many of the group's donations to local recreation leagues, schools, Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department and more.
"We are open [to community service projects], so we are supposed to look within our own community ... for whatever is needed," Holcomb said.