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Thu, Feb. 20

92nd fair bigger and better, demolition derby Saturday

Armies of pigs, chickens, cattle, fruit, vegetables, carnival folks, citrus fruit from the Mayer Corridor and Black Canyon City, children and parents will invade the fairgrounds this weekend to celebrate the 92nd year of the Yavapai County Fair.

Hundreds of volunteers have been organizing a gargantuan number of entries to see the best livestock, art and science exhibits in the county.

Betty Billingsley, the superintendent of the fair's agriculture exhibits, said that Black Canyon City has some of the best citrus fruit in the county. She said that many other Yavapai County residents are unaware that the area has the perfect environment to grow healthy oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruit.

Other areas of the county did not do so well though, Billingsley said. For example, the Prescott area suffered a spring frost that destroyed many people's fruit plants, she said.

Jim Grundy, the general manager of the Yavapai County Fairgrounds, noted that the 2005 fair will also feature many entertainment attractions for residents.

He said the 2005 fair will feature more carnival rides, tractor races, a raucous demolition derby, a popular hypnotist, a wild animal show, live music and more. He added that Amazing Animals will help kick off the festivities on Thursday with the help of Cody the chimpanzee ­ a simian that smothered Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lew Rees with hugs and kisses in 2004.

The wild animal troupe will perform throughout the weekend near the entrance of the horse racing grandstands.

"It is hands on and kids love it," Grundy said. "They have got an exotic leopard that they are supposed to bring. They've got a falcon that flies around and comes back. It is not only entertaining, it is very educational."

Grundy said that the group will also bring a few more exotic felines than last year. The demolition derby will start at 11 a.m. on Sunday, he said.

"It is always one of the big highlights of the fair," Grundy said. "People just love that."

The derby will also feature a contest to benefit the Yavapai County Special Olympics, according to Gary Spiker. During the intermission, a helicopter will fly over a section of the derby with several flags and drop numbered golf balls, he said.

Spiker said the fair is selling the golf balls for $5, which gives the buyers a chance to win prizes including free food and golf.

"The closest one to the center can get $1,000," Spiker said during a recent show with Rees. People may buy the golf balls at the fair grounds and Oleson's Grain.

Amateur boxing starts at 6 p.m. Saturday evening in front of the racing grandstand, Grundy said.

"There are going to be a ton of bouts because it is a challenge between northern and southern Arizona," he said.

Also, an antique tractor club will race antique tractors. Afterward, "you can get out on the track, look, get on and touch some of those vintage old tractors from the turn of the century," Grundy said.

Hypnotist Jonathon Mezner is returning to this year's fair to perform his spellbinding act.

Country musicians will compete at the Colgate Country Showdown at 1 p.m. on Saturday near the horse paddock.

The fair will feature a variety of foods that includes hamburgers, corn dogs, fry bread, Mexican food, and Thai food, Grundy said.

The fair runs Thursday through Sunday. Exhibits are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the carnival and entertainment go on until midnight. The tram runs from 10 a.m. t o 9 p.m.

The Yavapai County Fairgrounds are in northeast Prescott Valley on Highway 89A. Thursday and Friday children 0 - 18 get in free. Saturday and Sunday admission is $3 for ages 6 - 18, while kids under 6 are free. Admission for adults 19 and older is always $5, while seniors age 60 and up pay $2 on Thursday and Friday, and $4 on Saturday and Sunday.

Pre-sale carnival tickets featuring unlimited rides are available for $15 from the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce, Olsen's Grain Stores and at the fairgrounds through Wednesday only. Mom or dad ride free on Thursday with a ticketed child.

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