To play a cowgirl, it helps to have the right get-up before you giddyup.
So prior to mounting their faux horses at the Clark County Fair’s Cowboy Boot Camp, 7-year-old Mynelia Richardson and her 5-year-old sister, Marijah Greenwood, sifted through a chest of outfits.
Both picked out a much-needed cowboy hat. Mynelia found a pink bandana and wore it around her neck. Her sister found a brown vest with stars sewn on it.
Their great grandmother, Jenny Keepers, encouraged the girls not to mosey. She wanted to wrangle a good photo.
“Come on, cowgirl, get on that horse,” Keepers said. The sisters hopped on, held their lassos and smiled.
Besides the art of dress-up, children visiting the fair’s Cowboy Boot Camp area also practiced roping a steer, brushing horses, making rope, panning for gold, milking a cow, driving a tractor and throwing horseshoes. Cowboy Boot Camp was new to the fair this year and provided free and unscheduled play for young kids and their families, organizers said.
“It’s an interactive cowboy experience for kids to come in and learn a couple of things about the West,” said Hannah Lansberry, a Great American Entertainment Co. employee who ran the boot camp on Sunday, the fair’s final day. She said that the boot camp also provides a space for families to kick back at the fair and play.
“It’s easy to watch your kids in this area,” she added.
Kara Benfit and her 4-year-old daughter, Carmen Benfit, tried a round of horseshoe. After they were done, Carmen picked up all of the horseshoes and placed them around the two stakes. “It’s a tie,” Carmen said.
The girl hurried to the toy tractors and rode one briefly, then picked up a brush to use on one of the toy horses. “Mom, I can comb them,” she said, quite pleased.
Kara Benfit said they had just arrived at the fair, and Cowboy Boot Camp was one of the first things they happened upon.
“I think it’s cute,” she said.
John Morrison, the county’s fair manager, said the aim of Cowboy Boot Camp, along with the fair’s new main feature for 2016, “Fun Science Experience,” was to provide more interactive attractions that were available all day, in addition to the fair’s shows that run periodically. Morrison said he received positive feedback about those new attractions.
Overall, Morrison said, the fair was well attended this year. During its first nine days (information wasn’t available yet for Sunday), the fair scored its second-best revenue at the gates, and its third-highest carnival and food sales, Morrison said. The number of fair tickets people bought in advance was the highest it had been in the past five years, and Saturday night’s Tuff Trucks event was so popular, seating ran out in the grandstands, organizers said.
Morrison attributed some of the fair’s success to an improving economy.
For Keepers and her great granddaughters, Sunday was their second visit to this year’s fair. They went on Tuesday for nearly 10 hours but still didn’t do everything they wanted to do.
“There are so many things for kids to do out here for free,” Keepers said. “We had to come back and see some more stuff.”
Mynelia said one of her favorite memories at the fair this year was riding the roller coaster with her aunt and uncle.
“It tickles your stomach,” she said.