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Barton Countys OzSome Fair opens today
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Jason Wagner (in blue shirt) helps workers assemble the Kamakaze, one of the many rides on the Midway at the 2013 Barton County Fair. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

Visitors to the 2013 Barton County Fair may come face to face with characters from Wizard of Oz.  During the 5-day fair opening today, Dorothy and her pals, the lion, scarecrow and tinman will be wandering the Ozsome fair, and will be available for photo ops evenings at Expo II.
The Barton County Fair opens today at 8 a.m. with the check-in of all exhibits, both 4-H and Open Class.  The only exception are perishables.  Judging of the 4-H foods exhibits will begin at 8:30 a.m., and no time will be spared in taking care of these delectable entries.  The 4-H Foods sale will happen as soon as the judging is complete inside Expo II.  Open class foods will check in Thursday morning and will be judges at 10 a.m. along with horticulture, clothing, quilts, and open arts and crafts.  

4-H families arrived Monday evening and began decorating the hall with old-time bicycles, red shoes, brooms and other Oz-themed visuals.  On Tuesday morning, Chad Lagerman and his crew from Northview Nursery moved nursery stock into at the entrance of Expo II, busily putting together the tornado scene where Dorothy lands in Oz.  That afternoon, the display was ready to greet all comers Wednesday morning.  
At Noon, Cloverbuds and 4-H Banner judging is scheduled in Expo II, and later in the afternoon, stop by Expo III for the Rabbit Show at 2 p.m. and the Poultry Show at 4 p.m.
Commercial exhibits will open at Expo I from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.  Local companies and organizations will be on hand, and this year Heart of Kansas Family Health Care will have an informational booth about the Barton County Summer of Wellness challenge.  Other sponsors of the event include Club 1 Fitness, St. Rose and CPI.  The weight loss challenge, Choose to Lose,  begins the week following the fair, running from July 16 through Sept. 16, and open to all Barton County Residents.  
From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. open class exhibits will be taken during late check-in, except for foods and horticulture.  A mandatory livestock meeting will be held for exhibitors in Expo III at that time, and at 6:30, the 4-H Youth Rally begins.  

Also at 6 p.m., Wagner’s Carnival Midway opens, with a selection of rides and games.  Carnival workers pulled into town Monday night, and at 9 a.m. Tuesday began setting up the rides and booths.  Jason Wagner, owner of the carnival, said he travels with 45 workers, some employees and some independent contractors, during the 10 months long season starting in February in Texas, and ending there a week before Thanksgiving.  The carnival travels around Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, with one date in Beatrice, Neb.   
Wagner said his crew doesn’t change from place to place.   
“It’s hard to find good workers who are willing to put in a day’s work for a day’s pay,” he said.  Plus, finding workers who can pass drug tests, have clean driving records, and are insurable  is difficult too, he said.   According to the company website, every Wagner’s Carnival employee is given a breathalyzer test twice a day, once before opening and at closing.
Part of the crew is made up of 16 workers from Mexico with seasonal work visas.  Many of the rides are independently owned and Wagner contracts with owners for the season.
“We have a very adequate workshop on hand every week,” Wagner said. “This shop contains everything needed to repair any ride.”
The carnival travels with its own electricians and construction workers, and relies entirely off of diesel powered generators to provide the electricity to power the numerous attractions.  It’s even equipped with a generator to provide power to the worker’s R.V.s if there is no local power available, Wagner said.  
But carnival rides aren’t for everyone, and the Barton County Fair Board understands.  Free stage entertainment will be available from 7 to 8 p.m. in Expo II.  
Most project judging will take place Thursday, and livestock will be shown primarily on Friday.  Saturday is Kids Day at the fair, and Sunday the fair wraps up with a Sunrise Service and breakfast, the 4-H barbecue and the sale of champions. There will be no car show this year.   A more detailed schedule is available at the Barton County Fair website,