Fireworks were merely one element of the summer fun on display at the Stoughton Fair over the long Independence Day holiday. Live music, farm animals, 4-H and FFA exhibits, tractor and truck pulls, a demolition derby, and plenty of food, including a fish fry and contests of gluttony with pizza and pie-eating contests, were also to be found at the Dane County community festival last weekend, held at the city fairgrounds in Mandt Park by the Yahara River. The beating heart of this quintessential American fair, though, is its Midway and accompanying collection of rides and concessions.
Thousands of people from throughout the region attend the fair, a non-profit event that is billed as "a great community event which strives to provide good clean family entertainment to people of all ages and economic backgrounds." Beginning last Wednesday, July 2 and running through Sunday evening, the fun was originally scheduled to get rolling a day earlier.
This opening day was canceled due to the rising cost of diesel, which fuels the generators that power the Midway attractions. Carnival operator North American Midway Entertainment is cutting back hours at various tour stops this summer, as detailed in a report from the State Journal. This still left five days of rides, though.A whirlwind look at the carnival and the people who kept it humming can be found in a short video montage created by Christopher Parr, who stopped by the fairgrounds on Saturday morning. "The place was basically empty except for the carnies," he notes. "They were setting up for the day and/or hanging out." Wielding a camera, Parr proceeded to shoot behind the scenes footage that he assembled into a two-and-three-quarters-minute montage that captures "a day in the life of the people who bring us merriment at the fair."
"The underground, transitory nature of the carnies seemed to be an apropos fit," says Parr about the song "Through the Roof 'n' Underground" by Gogol Bordello, which provides the soundtrack to the video. Folks looking for another shot at the Tilt-a-Whirl and funnel cakes won't have long to wait, meanwhile, as this carnival returns to town next week for the Dane County Fair, which runs from July 16-20 at the Alliant Energy Center.