"We’re doing a lot of things different," said Grayson County Fair Board President Joyce White. She spoke briefly and gave a short prayer thanking God for the weather and asking for a safe event at the fair’s gate-opening ceremony in Loy Park Friday.

"We’re doing a lot of things different," said Grayson County Fair Board President Joyce White. She spoke briefly and gave a short prayer thanking God for the weather and asking for a safe event at the fair’s gate-opening ceremony in Loy Park Friday.


The fair experimented with extended hours this year, staying open until 11 p.m. Saturday night. Its gates will open again at 10 a.m. Sunday morning, and the fair will close at 6 p.m. Sunday.


White said, among other changes, this was the first year the fair welcomed Texoma residents with no admission charge.


The admission funds "have always helped us start the fair the next year," and she said Grayson County residents would have to come out in strong numbers to prove the experiment a success.


The Grayson County 4-H Honor Guard unfurled and raised the United States flag, Texas flag and Grayson County flag before Martha Hayes sang the national anthem to signal the fair’s opening.


Local boy scouts in uniform helped adult volunteers direct cars full of families and couples of all ages to safely park around the entrance to the fairgrounds and livestock arena in the park.


Grayson County Law Enforcement Association President Karen Bruton set up a booth at the front gate, giving information and selling raffle tickets to benefit a fund for the families of law enforcement officers.


One officer working at the booth held a clicker to count the number of people strolling through the gates. Bruton said the association counted over 1,500 people on Friday and more than 450 after the fair had been open only two hours on Saturday.


"It’s just huge for us to give back to our community," Bruton said. "We hope people will come out and support the fair. Gotta show our Grayson pride!"


Dale Wright drove from Whitewright to bring his 2-year-old grandson Axton Wright to the fair. Wright said he wasn’t aware the fair was free to enter this year. Wright said he’s been to the fair for many years and likes to "just walk around, look at the exhibits, especially antique car shows; sometimes they have those."


Wright smiled often and said he leaves the loud, colorful fair amusements and rides "to the little guy," but he became suddenly contemplative when asked about his favorite fair food. After a thoughtful pause he said, "Corn dogs. That’s probably everybody’s favorite."


Inside the Mayor Arena on the fairgrounds, live performances from musicians, martial arts clubs and gymnastics groups entertained the crowd while various local vendors spoke to people about everything from kettle popcorn to state politics.


John Stewart of Denison brought his family of four to the fair and said he expected even more vendors. But, he said, "It’s free, that a good thing. I really enjoyed the livestock show."


Madelyn Vaughan and her granddaughter Christa McCollue brought McCollue’s two black steers to the livestock show, which, Vaughan said, "is what you’d call a jackpot show," where the animals are not for sale.


"It gives them a judge’s opinion on their animals," Vaughan said, "gives them an idea of what they can improve."


McCollue is still taking the contest seriously. The young woman said she hadn’t gotten a chance to ride any of the flashing and whirring rides yet. "After I show, I’ll get to play," she said.


However, McCollue didn’t hesitate to visit the concession stand run by the 4-H Club. "I had fries for breakfast this morning," she said unabashedly.


McCollue shared the stone-faced bravery expressed by most before getting on one of the carnival rides, a pervasive courage that belied the wild screams often emanating from the rides. "I’m not scared," McCollue said. "No. … I get a little clumsy afterwards, but I ain’t scared."