Fair goers cool off at the first aid station of the Jackson County fair Friday. Temperatures could exceed 100 degrees today. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Triple digits expected for fair

CENRAL POINT — Keeping cool on triple-digit days at the Jackson County Fair might be a chore for some this year, but not for Sebastian, a pot-bellied pig at the petting zoo. He just tips his plastic water bowl over and lies in the water-soaked hay beneath his feet.

Lucky for Sebastian, petting-zoo caretaker Jerry Vendall fills the water dish when needed just so the pig can knock it over again. "I like to count how many times he tips it over," Vendall said.

To contend with the heat, animals at the petting zoo and in the livestock pavilions get sprayed regularly with hand-held water bottles, hoses and overhead misters. As the day progresses, electric commercial fans are employed. A baby Bengal tiger and Barbary lion at "A Walk on the Wild Side" exotic animal exhibit keep cool with two 6-foot-tall swamp coolers placed at opposite ends of the building. "It's about 68 degrees in here when it's fully going," said exhibit owner Steve Higgs.

Sebastian and the show animals aren't the only ones suffering through the heat.

Vendors grilling food endure a double whammy.

"It's about 15 to 20 degrees hotter on the backside of the grill," said Issy's Bar-B-Que manager John Wadsworth. He pulled out his handy digital thermometer and read 122 degrees at grill-side by 11 a.m. Friday.

"There's one fan to curl the smoke and one fan to blow on your neck," Wadsworth said, pointing to two electric fans on a shelf behind the grill. "That and drink a lot of water."

With temperatures soaring into the hundreds, firefighters and paramedics working the fair's medical aid station expect to treat dehydration and heat exhaustion during the next few days.

"Last year we saw more teenagers," said paramedic Allyson Jeffs. She explained that some parents drop off their kids for the day, then the youngsters walk around in the sun, forget to drink fluids and ultimately get sick.

This year the medical aid station rented an air-conditioned trailer with cots so overheated patrons can lie down out of the heat and drink water to rehydrate themselves. After about 15 minutes, Jeffs said, they're as good as new and ready to rejoin the fair.

"In the air conditioning they'll pop up a lot faster," Jeffs said. "If they don't pop up fast enough, we may have to take them to the hospital."

This year fairgoers can cool themselves at a misting station located adjacent to the medical aid building. Here a canopy-covered area is lined with misting hoses that spray cool clouds of water in enough volume to wet people's clothing if they stand there long enough.

Misting hoses are interspersed throughout the fairgrounds — alongside buildings and especially in livestock pavilions. Hand-held fans also are available in boxes throughout the fair.

Meteorologist Kelly Sugden at the National Weather Service said the high for Saturday is expected to reach 103 degrees. Sunday will cool slightly to 101, she said, with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms Sunday evening.

The cooling trend's expected to continue into next week with a high of 97 degrees on Monday, 93 on Tuesday and 92 on Wednesday.

Fairgoers are reminded to drink plenty of water and to wear comfortable shoes to prevent blisters.

Vera Westbrook is a reporting intern for the Mail Tribune and can be reached at

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