At some point on a soggy Saturday, Paris Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Hixson stepped through the gates of the Logan County Fairgrounds in Paris and started counting cars.
And she counted 500 of them.
Hixson estimates that the annual Frontier Day festival, which was staged at the fairgrounds with a pageant at Paris Middle School and a car show on Courthouse Square, drew an estimated 3,000 people — its largest attendance in years.
The event was so attractive to people that only a few people left the fairgrounds when a hard, cold rain fell around 11 a.m.
“It was great and we had a great crowd,” Hixson said Monday while supervising a group of seven from the Cass Job Corps who were cleaning up at the fairgrounds. “Anytime you have a weather problem, you can lose people. People don’t want to come out in the rain. But, we didn’t lose that many people and we had a tremendous crowd. We ran out of handicapped parking spaces at one time.”
The Cass Job Corps students also helped with setting up the event and with helping vendors set up, Hixson said.
The day started with a parade under partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the comfortable low 80s and high 70s. The rain ushered in the arrival of a cold front that dropped temperatures into to the chilly 60s.
And, those attending helped make the event a good one for the numerous vendors on hand, Hixson said.
“The vendors were very complimentary,” Hixson said. “I think they all did well and one of them told me he had wonderful event.”
This year’s event, which was held at the fairgrounds after years on Courthouse Square, had some special attractions which revolved around a Civil War theme.
Saturday morning, a monument commemorating the 1963 Battle of Haguewood Prairie — which took place 150 years ago, was unveiled near the entrance to the Paris-Subiaco Municipal Airport, located adjacent to the fairgrounds. A historical marker has been placed next to the monument. The battle took place near the airport. Then, later that day, the battle was recreated by re-enactors from across the state and from other states. Also, re-enactors set up Civil War-era campgrounds. Those attending the event also got to see era-appropriate crafts and other items. Civil War cannon and musket firing demonstrations were held.
Dr. Curtis Varnell, of Paris, did the research on the battle after finding artifacts in fields near the airport. Varnell arranged to have re-enactors at the event.
“I thought things went about as well as could be expected, considering the rain,” Varnell said. “It was as large a crowd as any I’ve seen at Frontier Day.
“The Civil War-related events went really well,” Varnell said. “We had about 30 re-enactors from all over the place and about as many local people participating. They really had a lot of compliments for the crowd.”
Varnell also said the re-enactors are eager about coming back to Paris.