Grant Egger and Leeanna Ellis

Grant Egger and Leeanna Ellis

There's a lot to love about county fairs. Though many have been canceled by COVID-19, Washington County vows to host a trimmed-down, safe edition at the end of the month.

So, there's a question to be asked. What makes the county fair such a great event? What is the best part? Managing Editor Leeanna Ellis and Sports Editor Grant Egger debate.

Egger: A demo derby makes for a good night

This question stings a little bit because the demolition derby will not be apart of the Washington County Fair this month because of the crowd it typically draws.

But, out of health and safety considerations, I think its a fine call that I can respect by the fair board. Plus, rodeo is probably my second-favorite thing about the county fair and we're getting two nights of that, per normal!

Now, back to the topic, though. I love a good demolition derby because you can actually feel it when you're in attendance. As a sports reporter with a camera, I've been showered by mud at these events and can hear the grinding of metal to the highest of degrees. I love it and get as close as I can, which is just behind the firefighters on the berm that surrounds the demo arena.

Demo derby is a sport with a winner, but losers can get just as much fanfare for their efforts, which is also a nice twist. I love the whine of the compact motors and the flames shooting out of the stacks on the larger cars – win or lose. It's all great stuff under the lights on cool summer nights.

So, yes, I know we're not getting a demolition derby at the Washington County Fair this year. But, let me tell you, I'm very much looking forward to the next one I'm able to see — and feel — up close.

Ellis: Bring on the fair food

Every year, I look forward to the Washington County Fair.

There is much to be seen, done and heard at this annual event that swells Arlington's population by the thousands. From the rodeo to the tractor pulls to the 4-H shows, there is something for everyone.

This year's fair will likely look a bit different, with events like the headlining concert canceled and the demolition derby postponed.

But I know I'll still be able to get my favorite thing at the fair — the food.

As a child, I attended county fairs with my family in eastern Iowa. We'd head to Tipton for the Cedar County Fair or West Liberty for the Muscatine County Fair.

Of course, my brother and I would hit the rides on the midway. We'd also attend the concerts, typically some headlining country crooner, and the stock car races.

But it was the smell of the food, usually fried, that would attract my attention. The aromas of these delicacies that you'd only eat at a fair would fill my nose and soon I'd be asking my parents or grandparents for money.

During trips to the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport, my grandma and I would always get a corn dog and a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

The Washington County Fair has offered some new fair food traditions for me. While a corn dog and lemonade is still a favorite, I've also found that I'll visit the 4-H pizza stand more than once during the time I'm covering the fair. And I've had my fair share of Hawaiian shaved ice.

So while others may be ready to watch the rodeo, visit the animal barns or watch the tractor pull, you can bet you'll find me stuffing my face.

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