Jessamine County Fair

Written and photographed by: Dan Pendleton
Sunday, July 16th, 2017

It was a hot July afternoon yesterday as I found myself headed to Nicholasville, Kentucky for the 2017 Jessamine County Fair held annually at the fairgrounds off Longview Drive.

These fairgrounds however, are owned by the city, and are considered actual fairgrounds, which even says so on the (Google) map, and hosts several events throughout the year — including the county fair.

Arriving around 5:00pm, I thought I was early because the website said gates opened at 6:00pm, which to my surprise, wasn’t true. There were cars arriving already and people everywhere which lead me to believe they opened earlier than I expected. No problem though. I was glad they were open already.

Finding a place to park, which wasn’t hard, I first made my way to the Fairgrounds Office to check with the grounds manager before I went off taking pictures of this and that without permission. As a photographer, it’s always a good idea to check in with the management team because you might get kicked out before you get started.

Most people are a little leery about photographers taking pictures of them, and/or their family when they aren’t familiar with you, and know what you’re doing.

After checking in with the fair manager Holly, I told her what I was there for and she gave me the green light to shoot most anything, (except for the Baby Show, who had their own photographer). Even if she said it was okay, and as darling as those little things are, I’m not going to do it — unless, of course, I was in that type of photography business.

Graciously obliging Holly’s receptiveness, I returned to the car to get the gear and proceeded back inside. After all, I’m not taking my gear inside to be denied entry and then have to tote it back to the car — not that it weighs that much anyway.

As I approached the gates going in, I ran in to this kind lady working a jewelry booth by the name of Barbara Giles of Nicholasville, Kentucky. Barbara is the sister of Ann Bayes, whom I work with on my full-time job at University of Kentucky, and is married to a friend and former shuttle bus driver himself, Glenn Giles. All the jewelry is hand crafted by the booth owner who actually has a shop in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Barbara has helped out there as well. They have some very beautiful pieces of jewelry all handcrafted by special hands. The shop owner seems to know what she’s doing.

Barbara Giles

After chatting with Barbara for a few minutes, I made my way around to the main fairgrounds and prepared my cameras for action, and had my first encounter with a young lady working a ball toss booth where you toss a ball into a trashcan while the lid opens and closes. Not as easy as you might think. She was nice enough to let me photograph her, even with sunglasses on. Most of her prizes were fury little dolls, which I believe included the likes of Elmo and others’.

Lovely Young Carnival Attendant

I did notice that most of the Amusement attendants are Hispanics, which I have nothing against, and have had the pleasure of knowing many Hispanics through-out the years myself who have been extremely nice to me.

My next stop landed me with a Hispanic male operating the Shoot-the-Cup booth where you get one try with a rifle to shoot one of the different colored cups for your prize. However, at $5.00 a pop, that seemed a little steep to me. I watched a few people try and I didn’t see one person win. This one may be rigged.

Also supporting sunglasses is this young man operating the Shoot-the-Cup booth.

Next was the Basketball Hoop booth where, you guessed it, you toss the basketball in to the hoop (goal) to win the prize. This too, is a bit on the steep side at $5.00 per ball. Yes, you only get one toss for five bucks! Don’t know about these Amusement Park booth’s. Something may be fishy here.

Very nice young man operating the basketball hoop booth

Before leaving the basketball booth, the attendant, a nice young Hisp chatted with me and then wanted his picture taken. So, I did and told him where he could find it. He was happy.

Once I left him, I turned to discover these cute little rubber duckies bobbing in the water.

Rubber Duckies bobbing in the water

Here you pay your fee to take a chance at winning a prize duck with a hidden number on its bottom side. Each duck has a different number which determines what prize you win. Kind of cute, I guess.

But now, on to the rides.

Not having been here in many years, I didn’t know exactly what to expect as far as rides go. Not your typical sized fair, like Lions Bluegrass Fair in Lexington, Kentucky. There were many rides, but not a lot.

Below I’ve included a few photos of people having a lot of fun on a beautiful Kentucky weather afternoon.

The Scrambler
A Small Dragon Coaster
Pre-historic Creature Ride
Will it go ’round in circles?

Spending almost two hours shooting many photos was a pleasure, and most people were very receptive, but I forgot to take anything to drink and I certainly wasn’t going to pay those prices for a drink. By now though, I’m getting pretty thirsty.

But, I have to say the salted (or unsalted) pretzels sure did look tasty!

Yum, yum! Pretzel!

I can only imagine had I had one of those tempting pretzels, I would have certainly needed something to drink for sure!

One of the more popular rides for everyone of all ages, was the ‘Slide’. Making your way to the top (what looked to be about 75 feet or so), the attendant meets you to give you something like a burlap sack to put around your feet, legs and bottom side, and then gives you a shove down the slide. Away you go! That looked like lot’s of fun!

The ‘Slide’

Hesitant in leaving, I made my way out the same way I came in only to hear off in the distance an auctioneer rattling on as they typically do. I never could understand those guys (or gals), but always found it amazing how they did it. I found out they actually go to school for that sort of thing.

Anyway. After migrating towards this bellowing I came across a bunch of people with horses enclosed in this dirt arena pulling something.

Ah, I thought, and found out it was actually a team of horses pulling cement blocks inside this blue thing. Once the team of horses was hooked to this thing, boy, off they went but only for a short distance. Then, they’d make their way to the end of the arena and wait their turn to be bellowed at by the auctioneer.

Horse Pulling Contest

Kind of neat in a way, if that’s your thing – but absolutely a total waste of time to me.

Wrapping it all up, it was a sweet two hours photographing the Jessamine County Fair in Nicholasville, and if you ever have a chance to visit, please do.

Oh, by the way.  If you go near that team of horses watch out for the horse poop. I wasn’t so lucky! Had to wash my shoes when I got home!

Stay safe!



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