LIMA — It’s a dog race. It’s a flea market. No matter what you are looking for, there is something for everyone.
Max’s Trader Days and Water Dog Races opened Friday, and as usual, it drew its always large crowd.
In its eighth year, the event drew more than 10,000 patrons its first day and will clear more than 30,000 by its end Sunday.
“We are starting to outgrow the fairgrounds,” said Max McCluer, who runs the event. “We have an area out on the west (side) of the track where we tell them to store stuff. We had to tell them this year, ‘we are coming your way.’”
McCluer said the event brings millions of dollars into the area on Labor Day weekend every year.
“We have vendors that bring $10,000 in inventory, and they plan to sell it all by the end of the weekend,” McCluer said. “There is a vendor who comes from Las Vegas who flies here and sends his inventory through UPS. Outside the fairgrounds, people use the hotels, the restaurants, buy gas, use the laundromats.”
Going into the weekend McCluer figured on close to 2,000 vendors, but now suspects that it has easily cleared 3,000.
“There were a lot of people who kind of waited to the last minute to see what the weather would do,” McCluer said. “They have called the last few days and we made room.”
With the weather cooling a little bit, McCluer said jackets were a hot item on the opening day of the event. Otherwise, there is something for everyone, weather you were looking for old Tonka trucks, sets of tires and lots of valuable treasures.
“We don’t say junk,” McCluer said.
With the dog race, the purse for the champion has now reached $10,000, making it the largest water dog race in the U.S. Dogs were coming from all of the country, including New York, Tennessee, Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri.
“We expect it will be the largest turnout for us ever with the dogs,” McCluer said.
McCluer said the event is now guaranteed to be at the fairgrounds through 2020. He said he has signed a five-year contract with the fairgrounds, with this being the first year.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at [email protected]