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When the lights go out, another side of fair emerges

Around midnight, the Lawrence County Fair has begun to wane.

Parents walk a few steps behind their children, a tired stagger with none of the vigor they had when they arrived.

Children dart to concession booths or to carnival rides, hoping for one more funnel cake, one more ride. The fun of the fair is drawing to a close.

But just a few feet away, another group is just gearing up. The child exhibitors of the fair, and some of their families, are getting ready to cut loose.

Jared Bruce of Pedro was still buzzing from his grand champion award in the market steer competition as he shoveled sawdust into a barrel to take to his prize cow.

Even the grand champ has to tend to his animal. Jared's stall must be spic and span before he leaves the fairground. But after his chores, Jared likes to retire to the nearby campground.

It has become tradition now for the children, too wired from all the fair fun, to meet together in the campground for a little after-hours fun.

"Most of the time I'll play cards, or we'll all play videogames," Jared said. "We play Xbox games and stuff."

Bruce stays with his mother, Lisa in a camper. She said that Jared has a lot more fun when they camp at the fair, but it's also convenient.

"For the kids it's more enjoyable and also it's easier on you not having to travel 45 minutes home," Bruce said. "But in a way, camping's just part of the fun of the fair."

Jenny Johnson lives in South Point and could easily drive home every evening. But she prefers to take the week off of work and enjoy herself at the fair with friends and family.

"We all stay in the campground, we'll sit around and talk," Johnson said. "It's just like being on vacation, being with friends and family for a week."

After 13-year-old Shelby Shope of Pedro and her friends have fed and watered their animals and changed their bedding, she and her friends can finally go a little wild at the campground.

"We have water fights and play cards," said Shope with a giggle. "We've made a lot of new friends."

Shelby admitted with another giggle that many of those friends have been boys.

Although it may seem that taking a vacation in the hubbub of the fair wouldn't be very relaxing, Jenny Johnson disagrees.

"I look forward to seeing people you don't see every year, and being able to get away from work and the stress of everyday life and just Š be at the fair," Johnson.