Captal Lakefair has a little something for almost everyone - assuming you don't mind crowds and enjoy a good community festival. There are fireworks, music, rides and games, food, a parade and even a coronation.
But one thing that will be missing this year: the boat races on Capitol Lake. Boating has been banned in an attempt to stop the spread of New Zealand mud snails. The only thing on the lake this year will be Golf Island, on which people will attempt to land golf balls to win prizes.
But the landlocked portions of the event — which kicks off Wednesday with Teen Night and wraps up with a bang at July 18’s fireworks display — will go on much as ever.
For many, the fair is as much about reuniting with friends as it is about Ferris wheels or funnel cakes.
“I like to hang out in the midway between the food concessions and the carnival rides,” said Dee Hooper, who’s been involved with Lakefair since 1969 and was president of the festival in 1976. “That’s where you see people you might not have seen for a year. Sometimes you’ll see people at Lakefair, and that is the only place you’ll see them.”
“It’s all about our families, it’s all about our friends, and it’s all about our community,” said current Lakefair President Bob Barnes.
For event organizers, though, the week is no walk around the lake.
“I am so involved putting out fires that I feel like part of the fire department,” Barnes said.
“I’m usually here manning the phones,” said Jan Meyers, Lakefair’s administrative coordinator, who works from the fair office. “I make sure everyone has what they need to do their job.”
While he still does administrative work with the carnival, Hooper now has well-earned time to enjoy the fair.
Asked what he likes most, he talked about how well-organized the parade is and how important it is that Lakefair royalty gets scholarships and that nonprofit organizations staff the food booths.
But helping nonprofits is not the only thing Hooper likes about the food.
“I like the Saint Martin’s burger, and I like the Kiwanis beef sandwich,” he said. “Nothing like some good beef to clog the arteries.”
For Meyers, who’s been involved with the fair since 1986 and was its first female president in 1992, enjoying the fair food is no easy feat.
“I’m pretty much tied to the office during fair time,” she said. “I’m really lucky if somebody will bring me back something to eat.”