ANNA — Friday afternoon the Union County Fairground carnival staff and vendors were setting up for the 139th Union County Fair, which opened in the evening. The carnival, operated by Sonshine Amusements, will open at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Several local fairs and festivals have cancelled their carnivals because one company allegedly did not deliver the rides they promised.

Union County Fair has not had any problems with Sonshine Amusements, the carnival they have used for a number of years.

“A lot of fairs didn’t have carnivals,” Dale Moreland, secretary of the fair board of directors, said. “Sonshine Amusements does an excellent job.”

The carnival will run from 6 to 10 p.m. today through Saturday, Aug. 24. Armbands are available every night except Monday for $15. On Monday, Family Night at the fair, armbands will $10. Individual-ride tickets also are available.

Moreland said Union County Fair is the second oldest in the state. The fair is run by a 100 percent volunteer staff.

“We all have their own area of expertise,” Moreland said.

That group of “experts” includes the 15 members of the fair board and about 35 or so others who run the fair office and departments throughout the grounds.

“We will have harness racing at 1 p.m. Monday,” Moreland said.

Harness racing across Illinois suffered during the state budget crisis, and weather caused cancellation of racing during recent years. General admission is free.

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Moreland said they have added a new class to the popular truck pull, which will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. This year, a semi pull will follow the truck pull. General admission is $8 adults and $5 children.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in that,” Moreland said.

Whippoorwill Rodeo’s championship series will return to Union County Fair at 7 p.m. Thursday. It is a local series that takes place in Southern Illinois. Contestants compete for points, and must compete and pay entry in nine contests. The winner of the series will take home a fancy belt buckle.

Admission to the championship rodeo is $8 adults, $5 children. Pit passes are available.

One of the highlights of the fair is two nights of demolition derby, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23, and Saturday, Aug. 24.

General admission is $10 adults, $5 children. Pit passes are $20. Each night features stock mini cars and modified mini cars, as well as kids' power wheels. Adult power wheels will compete on Friday, with a lawnmower demo on Saturday.

“The big nights are Friday and Saturday. They pay the bills,” Moreland said. “The grandstand will be sold out for sure.”

Miss Union County Fair Pageant will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the grandstand. During the evening Miss Union County Fair 2019, Junior Miss Union County Fair and Little Miss Union County Fair will be crowned. Admission is $8 adults, $5 children.

Admission to the fair is $5 adults and $3 children. Parking is $2, with no charge today and Sunday. A family pass is available for $20 and is good for admission and parking.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit the fair’s website at unioncountyfair.net.

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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