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Suwannee River Fair sales total $1,112,000 – a record smashing number!

The 2021 Suwannee River Fair sale broke all records by surpassing the 1 million dollar mark with 364 animals sold on sale day, March 17. In comparison, the 2020 Fair sale totaled $884,500 with a total of 376 selling animals.
Those 4-H and FFA members who sold market animals at the Suwannee River Fair in 2021, are very thankful for the continued support of the buyers. A host of Tri-County buyers and fair booster organizations come back, year after year, to purchase animals to support the youth of the Tri-County area. The 2021 Fair had 550 exhibitors and a total of 750 entries which makes it one of the largest youth fairs in the state.
When asked about the 2021 Fair, Loran Brookins, Fair President said, “The Fair got off to a really good start, the week before the fair began, when Big Bend Chevrolet Buick in Chiefland manager, Dishon Putz, wrote us a check for over $19,000.” Brookins went on to say, that with the check Big Bend Chevrolet Buick recently donated, the local car company has now given over $100,000, to the Fair in the past 3 years. In 2019 and 2020 Randy Durden headed up a truck raffle for Big Bend Chevrolet which raised much of the $100,000 to support the youth of the area. Brookins went on to say the Suwannee River Fair Board would spend the money wisely improving the fair facilities.
Brookins also attributed much of the increased fair sales to the fair boosters in Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy Counties, he went on to say how much he appreciated their efforts on behalf of the 69 year old Suwannee River Fair.
The Fair seems to grow each year with new events and contests. Darbi Meisner of Dixie County headed up the Life Skills, aka home economics show at the fair this year. As Superintendent, she started a Cupcake Decorating Contest which was very well received. This first contest had 25 youth enter and decorate cupcakes.
Brookins also praised the Jr. Fair Board members for all there efforts at the fair this year. The Jr. Fair Board assist the Fair Board with the fair shows and fills in where needed. This year’s Junior Fair Board members are Caleigh Robinson, Tyler Vorhees, Sydney Groom, Kole VanAernam, Wyatt Higginbotham, Adam Smith and James Wood.
Jessica Cooper, the Gilchrist County Extension Director and Agent, has not only headed up the Jr. Fair Board, but she has also help start an Ambassador program, where student participants in the Fair, step up to help, before and during the Fair. The Ambassadors serving from March 2021 to March 2022 are Regan Varnes Jadie Driggers, Veronica Rigby, Alaina Blair, Dalton Coleman, Seanna Langford, Laina Teague and Alaura Brown. “These new programs will only help the fair as we move forward,” Brookins said.
It literally takes hundreds of volunteers who freely donate their time each year. These volunteers are often not even seen as they are in the back moving animals though the maze of pens to the show ring, filling the paper towel holders in the bathrooms or working in the concession stand, just to name a very few of the jobs volunteers do for a three week period every March. Brookins said, “Some of these volunteers have come back and worked the shows for years now, their kids are grown and gone and they still come back to help. Every time you see a volunteer you should go up and thank them. There would be no fair without them.”
The Suwannee River Fair Board is also very thankful for hardworking inmates from Lancaster Correction Institution who have for year’s cleaned the fair barn and facilities after the fair each year. Their work crews also ready the barns, and out buildings each year before the fair begins.
Last, but not least, Mari Smith Fair Secretary and Brookins would like to thanks Mr. Chuck Elton for taking the photos for many, many years at the Fair. Elton not only takes and gives away hundreds of photos each year he assist in the arena and often gives the exhibitors a kind word when they need it most.
When reflecting on the fair Brookins said, “This year’s fair went off pretty smoothly, congratulations to all the winners and all those who participated in the 69th Suwannee River Fair.”
The Suwannee River Fair dates in 2022 will be March 5 to 23.