PALMETTO -- Sunday marked the conclusion of the historic Manatee County Fair of the Century at the fairgrounds in Palmetto and, despite cold weather for some of the 11 days, the 2016 fair will probably rank in the top three all-time in attendance.
"I think our gut feeling is that we are probably not going to overtake that 2012 fair which had great weather and just more than 172,000 for 11 days, but we'll come close, maybe second or third," Fair Director Dan West said Sunday.
A final attendance figure for the 2016 fair will be announced this week, West added.
Along with the midway rides, sea lion show, Rocket the Robot, remote controlled trucks, and the Dennis Lee Show, there was one last special event Sunday -- the Manatee County Fair 4-H and FFA Horse Show.
The horse show featured 19 of the top young riders in the county and concluded with Lindsay Neal of Buffalo Creek Middle School and Jordan Olson of Palmetto High School taking junior and senior Horsemen of the Year respectively.
People's desire to say they were at the 100th fair drove attendance upwards, West said.
"I think the community really came out and supported the fair and wanted to be part of the celebration," West said Sunday. "It is a milestone. I think about all the people who came before us and put a lot of effort and their lives into this event. I wonder what those members of the early Manatee County Board of Trade would say
right now knowing we made it to 100 years?"
Fair officials honored the excitement over the 100th birthday of the fair by filling a time capsule with artifacts from the 2016 Fair and sealing it before a crowd that gathered at 6 p.m. in front of the First Manatee Exhibit Hall.
Among the 25 or so items put in a 14-inch wide by 17-inch tall urn and sealed in a cement vault not to be opened for 50 years include stories from the Bradenton Herald, the flag that flew over the fair this year and a coin presented by the Hernando DeSoto Society to the fair at opening ceremonies this year, said West, who will be 96 when he is scheduled to take part in the capsule's grand opening in 2066.
Other items sealed away include a fair hat, several fair T-shirts, a commemorative fair cup, a stuffed "Snooty" manatee, fair label pins, a fair ink pen, a fair frisbee, a commemorative fair coin made by Medallion Home, a fair table tent and, several computer thumb drives containing pictures of all the livestock at this year's fair, compiled by Kristen Duryea.
Other items include a fair almanac which has a history of the fair, a 100-year fair cookbook, a 100-year fair pin and a video made by Manatee Educational TV about the history of the fair.
Said West: "I'm curious about what they will think about this METV video disk and even if they will have some way to play it."
Also going in the capsule are posters from this year's fair with pictures of the entertainers of the day.
The time capsule vault will have a huge bronze plaque on it that commemorates the 100 years of the fair and bears all the names of the fair directors and all the members of the 2016 Manatee County Fair Board, West said.
4H AND FFA horse show
Who says horse show fans aren't as fanatic as football or basketball?
Mikayla DeSantis, 13, a seventh grader at Haile Middle School, had a dozen screaming fans at Mosaic Arena Sunday for the 2016 Manatee County 4-H and FFA Horse Show.
On her 15-year-old thoroughbred, Annabel, Mikayla, who specializes in Western riding, captured the Keyhole Race where competitors must race down the arena into a keyhole made of chalk and go around without touching the lines. Mikayla ran the keyhole in 10.82 seconds, best time of the event.
"If I would let her live in the barn, she would live in the barn," said Mikayla's mother Donna DeSantis who was joined in the "Mikayla Fan Club" by Mikayla's aunt, Diane Micochero, Mikalya's grandfather, Donald Whalen and a herd of Mikayla's siblings and cousins.
Like all 19 of the exhibitors on a chilly Sunday, Mikayla did outstanding, said her mom.
"She does the western speed events, like barrel racing, poles, keyhole and those are why she is here," her mother said. "She's up at 5:30 a.m. before school to feed Annabel and she rides her after school."
Mikayla said she wants to be a veterinarian after college but, for now, she loves riding Annabel and going fast. Speed is her thing.
"I like barrels and keyhole," Mikayla said with a grin.
Amanda Neal took Grand Champion Gelding with her Appaloosa, Hot Chocolate Skip, said Karen Neal, area superintendent.
Lindsay Neal won Reserve Champion Gelding with her horse, Dances with Roses, or, as the horse is more commonly known, Stuffs. Lindsay was awarded Junior Horsemen of the Fair and Jordan Olson received Senior Horseman of the Fair.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.