New CEO oversees updates to Mid-Winter Fair


— Attendees will notice a few changes in their fair experience this year, according to Allen Phillips, CEO of the Mid-Winter Fair and Fiesta, who under his vision, the fair will feature a few new innovations and enjoy a wider range of entertainment.

To start, the fair will feature its very own app (download here), where users can view the scheduled acts for each of the six stages, show times for livestock, read about the still exhibits, and see updates on traffic and tickets sales. The app allows users to “favorite” shows and events they want to add to their personal schedule.

A separate app will be available to those in 4-H and FFA who are showing livestock, which will notify them when their class is called to the arena. Previously, owners were restricted to the barns where their class was called via loudspeaker.

High School Madness, which will be held Monday night in the Grandstands, will see its first year adopting a new policy designed to better ensure the safety of students: admission by wristbands. According to Joe Montenegro of the fair board, each school has been allotted wristbands based on size, which are then sold to students. A total of 2500 wristbands were distributed, which will ensure that the capacity of the Grandstands will not be exceeded.

“We went with the wristbands this year because every year more kids show up than we can put in the grandstands,” Phillips explained. The intent is that students won’t have to be turned away at the entrances.

Yet, Phillips noted he had already seen some students scalping their wristbands above the $3 price.

“The highest price I’ve seen so far is $50,” chuckled Phillips. “But we knew that was going to happen. As we move forward, certainly we’ll be able to improve.”

In order for the most students to be able to attend, the fair has encouraged parents to let the students have first access to buying the wristbands. As an alternative, parents can watch the night’s events online via livestreaming on Facebook.

Phillips also shared his goal to provide higher quality entertainment at the other venues. To accomplish this, the Calico stage has been removed due to its inconvenient location. Instead, the new Palm stage was created and placed along the main foot traffic route closer to the fair entrance. Phillips hopes this will encourage people to spend more time in the area before heading directly to the southern end of the fairgrounds.

However, Phillips recognized that the Rabobank stage, which is centrally located between the livestock barns, fair rides, and exhibit areas, is still a popular hub for attendees and will have headlining acts almost every night. Acts will feature both local and out-of-state bands from a diversity of music genres, including rock, reggae, and new age.

The Grandstands will host crowd favorite Metalachi, as well as the headlining act of the week, the classic rock band, Foghat, who are best known for their signature hit, “Slow Ride.”

In addition to appealing to those who grew up in the 70’s, Phillips hopes the selection will also resonate with youth.

“I’m hoping that we’re going to capture a lot of younger kids who know Foghat through Guitar Hero,” said Phillips.

The fair opens at noon Friday, March 3rd and runs through the 12th.