For much of last week's run of the Dakota County Fair, it seemed like Mother Nature was determined to keep people at home. If it wasn't 95 degrees and so humid even stepping outside seemed like a chore, there were storm clouds and lightning to make people think twice about taking a trip to the fair.
But when the weather cooperated, this year's fair appears to have been success.
Don Storlie, president of the Dakota County Agricultural Society and manager of this year's fair, said workers did the best they could dealing with situations that were sometimes challenging. Storms knocked down both the main entertainment tent and the Chautauqua tent at Dakota City Heritage Village, and lightning forced an early end to some of the music Tuesday night. Rainy weather also muddied the track for Tuesday's motocross competition, leading to an event Storlie said was not as good as he would have liked.
"I think when the weather was working with us it was just fine," Storlie said Monday, after the fair had wrapped up. "But we'd get through one storm and we'd get repaired for that and there's another one. It seemed just about every night we had rain late, around 8:30, 9. We had a storm warning. We lost people then."
Overnight rains frequently left mud puddles for fairgoers to navigate as they made their way from animal barns to the Midway to Dakota City, but Storlie said for the most part the grounds held up well.
The demolition derbies, regularly among the most popular attractions at the fair, got better as the week went on, Storlie said. On Saturday, there were long lines by 5:30 of people waiting to buy tickets for a 7:30 derby. And Storlie said Sunday's truck derby went very well.
When the heat broke for the weekend, the crowds picked up. Storlie said crowds Saturday and Sunday were as much as double what they were on some of the hottest days during the week.
This was Storlie's first year as manager of the fair. He was worn out by Monday morning, but he was satisfied.
"I expected it to be a lot of work, and it was. But we have such a good board that everybody did their job and that made it so much easier for me," he said.
There will not be any official attendance numbers for this year's fair until the agricultural society's next meeting, but overall, Storlie was happy with the week.
"I think people enjoyed themselves, because there's a lot for people to see," he said. "There's plenty of beverages for them out there, and food.
"No matter what barn you went into or what building you went into there was a lot of interesting things to see."