Interview-Kurt Becker & Scott Beal-Voice & Emcee for Effingham County Fair Harness Racing!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=""][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]i am kurt becker the track announcer at the effingham county fair and my name is scott beale and i helped during the races at the athens county fair so how did you two get involved in getting this job well kurt started calling this when he was in high school he started calling the races here at the fm county fair then and he did it i want to say for about 10 or 11 years and at the time when we used to play pick a winner he was the only voice here so they they'd pick up the tickets in the grand stand they'd have to run him across and run upstairs and kurt would play pick a winner he had a lot of stuff going on so i want to say it was around 1997 1998 i was here every day at the races anyway kurt asked me he said hey do you want to help me out in the grandstand take care of the drawings and do those things that'll free him up give him some time to prepare for the races i said sure that sounds like a lot of fun and we've been doing it ever since i think the advent of the wireless microphone played a big role in this the first year i can remember having a wireless mic was probably around 1996 we had an audio engineer from champaign f and g light and sound and i remember uh the sound engineer said to me the the start of the day on the first day of the races hey he said i've got a wireless mic he said the track announcer at the menard county fair at petersburg really like that do you want it or do you want a hard wired and i thought well the wireless mic would be great because it does allow me to come down the stairs run across the track and interact more with the crowd problem was first week august it's 95 degrees it's 90 humidity and i mean i'd be soaked with sweat and shot in no time so when scott said he was available to help when i talked to him and said hey would you do this would you be willing to be the mc in the grandstand it was a big relief and then the other thing is this scott being able to speak with the crowd and and administer the giveaway of the prizes and so on that allows me to focus more on the job of being the track announcer it gives me more of a chance to watch the horses as they come on the track to start memorizing the horse's names and so forth and the other thing look i'm going to be straightforward about this i am not a fun guy being fun on the microphone is really not my forte i've had people tell me before i'm too serious and too uptight but what's great about scott in the role of mc he's he's much better in that role he knows how to interact with the crowd his his comments just kind of flow off the cuff and he's got a you know we live in a day and age when people get offended it seems like at the drop of a hat but scott has a good formula he's got a way of in a good-natured way teasing the crowd having fun he'll make fun of them once in a while for their poor penmanship when he can't read one of their pickle winner entries but he does it in a general sense without calling people out individually and i think folks get a big kick out of that i remember when when we were kids they used to play pick a winner and i always hated it when they'd pick a winner and they'd draw the names out of people who got the horse wrong so they would embarrass them and say oh you know tom johnson not a winner and they throw it out and they'd keep drawing the tickets until they found the five dollars i never really cared for that because it was uh kind of embarrassed people who didn't get the horse right one other thing kirk said was we love the fair he grew up here i came out here a lot when i was young and i love the races and while we love the races that they are now before i started helping him and we started having all the fun we do it was a lot more boring during the races you'd have the race you'd have the picture the winner's circle photo and then you'd have 10 or 12 minutes of silence people would get bored they get restless and now it's a thrill a minute out here the action's non-stop and i think people enjoy what has come to be the whole show between the races and giving the prizes and having fun and one other thing i would add to that is it's been fun for me and for my family to see scott get involved with the racing program i grew up in the harness racing business scott didn't grow up in the horse business per se but as he said he's always been a fan of the fair and a fan of racing from the time he was a kid i i still try to convince him once a while to buy into a racehorse with me i i don't think mrs beale would be crazy about that so that's why we haven't taken that step just yet exactly and i'll let you have a little more success with your current horses before i decide to do a cool name leads it by a link here comes the challenge for the lead though just another bag is moving up on the outside and it's right alongside of don't like school just another scott beagle absolutely we're gonna have a lot of fun please look out for flying t-shirts there's our queen kaylee phillips waving everybody assisted by junior miss kindly will dean wither all at the center of the racetrack from third to second trying to catch don't like school and just another bag is there in between those two the black school still has the lead primed and powerful for outside just another bag between them three horses across the track [Applause] stretch battle it's going to be close for second either don't like school toward the inside or primed and powerful toward the outside in a photo for the runner-up spot so time for the mile is 202 flat is speaking during a race and then when the race is over with how do you know what to say at the right time what usually happens is after we have the first race and kurt makes the race official and has the winner circle presentation he'll then throw it back to me and we'll play the pick a winner we'll draw for five dollars and we'll give other prizes away and i'll typically do that just to kill some time and fill some time and entertain the people while he's making notes and getting ready for the next race and i'll talk and i will talk about the sponsors and i'll just kind of freewheel it a little bit killing some time entertaining people and as the field comes out for the post parade i'll see them coming there on the south turn and i'll stop and say let's do the post parade kurt will have that he'll do the post parade he may talk a little bit but then he may throw it back to me if he doesn't have anything to add right then and then i'll talk about sponsors and what's coming up at the fair until the field makes its way back around getting ready for the next race i want to add one thing if i may real quick on that one one thing that i try to do is since scott and i are positioned on opposite sides of the home stretch he's in the grand stand i'm over on the infield i try not to pick up my mic and hold it near my mouth to me if i've i've worked with announcers who they almost absentmindedly between races will stand there and hold the mic about an inch from their mouth and if you're in scott's position if you're the grandstand mc you don't know what to do is he wanting to speak does he want the floor back so i try to just to lay the mic down on the table and i don't even make eye contact with scott if now if if if i turn around and if i'm looking straight at scott he's he's really good at keeping an eye on what's going on on the infield and and then he will throw it back to me so i think the nonverbal communication is a big help absolutely and doing this over 20 years we've come to pick up on those signals from each other hey do you want to talk right now or do you have something to say and we don't plan that out ahead of time it works out really well we'll give you a cover frozen customer for your birthday we'll come up with nelson are you here bethany nelson oh there she is we'll get you five dollars away what makes you two such outstanding people on the mic i think a lot of it is spontaneity i believe that number one is having two voices at the races most fairs you've got one voice the track announcer calls the harness races and and does all the commentary even between races and i think a great rule of broadcasting in general is you have a couple of voices involved that changes things up it's not monotonous people get to hear different voices different presentations and and spontaneous scott scott and i have worked together at the races for a long time i mean probably going back close to 20 years by now and i believe the fact that we don't script it out ahead of time we don't sit down and say you say this then i'm going to say that it just flows i think that's a big part of it absolutely i think it helps as kurt said that he and i have known each other for almost 40 years give or take and we've done this here at the fair for over 20 i don't remember the first year that kurt asked me to help him it helps too that we know so many people in the crowd it makes it much more personal he and i as he said play off each other we don't discuss what we're going to joke about or talk about during the races ahead of time and gets the crowd involved between he and i we know probably seven to eighty percent of the people in the grand stand they sponsor so many awards at the races it's hard to keep up but as we said that's a good problem to have at the old county fair when you've got purchase and other folks willing to step up and get involved we are very fortunate with the number of responses that we have here at the fair folks if you get a chance between races today as i ask you to do all week be sure and flip through the program take a look at the ads people who buy the ads from the lions club there's a page in the program that lists all of our blanket sponsors also on that page our list of the people who donate for the t-shirt and for the prizes that i give away in addition to that i've got so many people who come up to me during the week and give me additional things to give away we are very very lucky to have such a great racing program and it's a testament to the wonderful community support that we have that makes our racing program so [Laughter] what is the biggest joy to calling these harness races for me the the number one aspect of coming out to the fair is being able to be the track announcer knowing that my dad carl did the job for so many years i think the first year that he called races here at home was back in 1965 and then about 20 years later when i was in high school i started helping him with the announcing duty so so the family aspect of it's a lot of fun and in addition to that i i have a lot of fond memories of coming to the fairs as a kid and and i get a kick out of the chance to get on the microphone and share some of those memories with the crowd a lot of times those are jumping off points uh you know if we're if scott and i might be talking back and forth across the track about what's coming up later in the fair week i might share a story that i remember from childhood about watching the demolition derby or the tractor pull miss scott's always very good about about playing off of that so uh i think if you enjoy and appreciate the fair and you appreciate its history you like the chance to be able to share that with other people i i think that that for me having a horse racing background in my family i number one i think it's it's really fun to see how the community comes out and that's the one week of the year when when folks across the county pay attention to horse racing which i get a kick out of because it's an industry that i work in year round and i enjoy the chance to talk to folks about it and i like seeing their reactions to it the other thing is the fact that uh i think it says a lot about the product harness racing is exciting we have great races that speaks to the the work that is done by our speed superintendent dean weatherall uh he's got an assistant kelly siebert who's been working with him the last couple of years they get some great horses here some really competitive races people have fun and and hopefully scott and i are able to to enhance that environment a little bit for them scott has made reference to the fact that that that the downtime is the key that's that's the one challenge for horse racing you have a race then you've got the time in between races before the next field is ready to go to the starting gate so hopefully he and i are able to enhance the environment without interfering with that program exactly you don't want people to get bored when they're here you want to have fun you don't want to overwhelm them with information but kurt as i'll probably mention this too and i'll say it we are very fortunate to have the racing program we do not just uh speed superintendent dean weatheralt but the whole fair board they know that how important the races are to our fair you know this year we had six days of races i think over 45 or 50 races spread over the six days we are so fortunate other fairs in illinois are even lucky to have one or two days of racing and they don't have the crowd we do and that's not making fun of them it's just saying how fortunate we are to have the community support the businesses the individuals that come out and make this week what it is it's so much fun and i'm glad i'm sure curtis is just glad to be a part of it and i'm curious also especially and i would ask scott this question with you being right here in the grandstand has it been fun i mean do you see like generations of families that come to the races absolutely i do you know i see people out here i was in school with i know their parents and grandparents are here and i see them now they're bringing their children out here and i've i've seen kids literally grow up here in the 20 plus years kurt and i have done this from being babies to maybe being the kids who run the tickets around the lion's club ushers and those kids grow up and have kids i mean we've done this like i said between 20 25 years and it's fun to see people the same week every year come back and it's just like a big reunion why is this fair so special compared to any other fair for me a lot of it is is probably a personal bias i mean i'm from effingham county i grew up coming to the races here from the time i was a kid so i admittedly am going to be partial to effingham county i think another thing for me is so many things that happen here dovetail with my interest scott and i both love to collect antiques this fair has for many many years had an antique show an exhibition hall that scott and i are also involved with we love the fact that the fair supports an event of that nature scott has mentioned the fact six days of harness racing in a day and age when a lot of bears have either done away with racing altogether or maybe have scaled back to just one or two days of racing so so that's a big part of it i think the other thing is when you come onto this fairgrounds it just feels like something big is about to happen i i talked to a demolition derby driver years ago that told me he said you know i go to demo derby's all over the state and he said i don't know if it's that giant concrete grandstand or what it is but he said when i pull onto the grounds and i've i've got my truck and trailer and i trailer the car out to the pit area and i look back at that huge grandstand he said to me it's just like you're going to a big venue and i and i think that this fairgrounds does have that kind of feel about it absolutely you're right we get we're lucky we get good crowds but it's a cycle we've got beautiful facilities too we've been to a lot of other fairgrounds or i have around the around the state and they're not as fortunate to have the community support we do you know we've as curt said we've got a great big concrete grandstand we've got probably over a dozen permanent buildings that are here and the crowd comes we have the facility and the people are having a lot of fun here we talked earlier about the support and the there was the derby driver you mentioned and people so many harness drivers this year told kurt how fun it was what a pleasure it was to come by and race by a grandstand full of cheering people you go to some other fairs and you'd be lucky to have a dozen 50 people in their grand stand for their races so it makes a difference competitive wise too the horsemen love it and you know kurt and i are just we're glad to be a part of it and i'm happy to be here describe what friday means to you guys as far as the kids races they're having so much fun they're riding horses they're even running out of where the horses start at exactly i want to say about eight ten years ago when we used to have thoroughbred races here in the middle of the thoroughbred racing car we put the starting gate up at the north end of the grandstand and it was i think dean speed superintendent dean weatherall's idea to get the kids come out and run and it just kind of grew from there we started out with different age groups and we start with three four five then do six seven eight kids get in the starting gate the gates closed and the crowd counts down and we yell three two one go and the gates spring open and all these kids come running out of the starting gate and they race the length of the grandstand and the fair board's down there and they give every kid who participates a dollar and then we've been lucky enough to have people's bank and trust since we've started this they give ice cream to every kid and really kids day has become a lot of fun for the kids families come out kids are jumping over the wall to get out there and run and race down the track and it's a lot of fun and kurt timberlake lets me call those races because as kirk mentioned earlier he's not very fun and he doesn't like that kind of uncertainty and spontaneity so i just make fun of the kids and call our names and hey there's a kid in a blue shirt he's winning or oh that kid lost his shoe and some kids will fall down but nobody gets hurt and they just run along and they get a dollar in an ice cream i mean what could be more fun than that and scott's right i am relieved each year when he says to me hey do you want me to call the kids races do you want me to call the western races where folks bring out you know a quarter horse and throw a western saddle on it and race in front of the grandstand and i always say yes please because again i i don't react well in that environment scott's right i want a program in front of me i want to know who the competitors are i want to know how you know how to identify them and call them by name and so on and it is just you've got to know your limitations i i feel like i feel like in those circumstances working with scott i i love the andy griffith show and i remember that andy griffith once said that it took him about two episodes to figure out he needed to be the straight man and let don knotts be the comic and and i think it's similar here scott is very good at knowing how to do the running commentary in more of a light-hearted situation and i get a kick out of just sitting back and laughing with the crowd and having fun just watching it all take place exactly our skills are complementary in the way we do things out here we work well together and as kurt just touched on it i was going to say let's be honest i'm not calling a race like kurt does i'm just offering commentary and trying to be funny while these kids are running down the track so it works out fine everybody has a good time and we really enjoy it three two one go here we go [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] is [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] this [Music] three two one go [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] for me the craziest thing that's ever happened this fair is from the demolition derby world when i was a kid in the 70s there was a guy from tower hill illinois named leonard peace he was one of the best derby drivers in the state and leonard was probably the first guy on the illinois fair circuit that ever ran chrysler imperials which are generally considered just by their natural design and build the best derby car that that money can buy this is one of the few fares leonard never won the feature he he was runner up here three different times he burned the clutch up one year at the end he ran out of gas one year i remember him having a big old imperial chasing butch ulcer from topolous butch had a 62 ford and leonard chased him all over the arena and and butch is no dummy butch said later he said he said i saw that great big old chrysler i thought if i make him chase me long enough he'll run out of gas because butch said there's no way i'm going to beat him with the car i had and and the plan worked and then the following year a transmission fire broke out so leonard p's three-time runner-up this is a guy that used to go to the world championship at the islip speedway on long island and yet he would come here and he just had the worst luck and to me that's one of the craziest things ever despair that leonard pease three times a runner-up never won the demolition derby you know what disappoints me is that you can barely remember any details about that can't you come with a little more information sorry kurt's got a much better memory than i do i can barely remember what i had for lunch last week but i'll tell you something funny that happened this year dean weatherall speed superintendent we mentioned dean gets a lot of sponsors throughout the year and i give a lot of things away this year he had something new he had a massage and i don't remember the name of the massage therapist but on sunday dean comes up and says hey we want to give a massage away today so we're at whatever race it is and i'm pulling the prizes out and i i inadvertently say all right i'm hoping to draw the ticket of a lady because i want to give her a massage and the crowd just burst up and i immediately realized that i what i'd say and i said hold the phone i'm not going to give her a massage we've got a certificate for a massage but still i got a lot of mileage out of that for for the rest of the afternoon the people wanted me to give them massages but luckily i kept my hands to myself what are some of the things that you would like to do as far as improve on for the future of this fair i think from my perspective as someone who's involved each of the racing days with the harness racing program i i would just like to keep doing whatever whatever we can to to help make the races entertaining for the audience hopefully pick up on the story lines uh you know we have so many local and area stables here and and i think that's the key i'm so i one thing i would love to see i would love to see more folks from the county get involved with actually maybe even owning a racehorse or maybe folks from the county that their families used to own a horse and they got out of the business maybe that they might come back into the business because i think that's huge in drawing a crowd into the stands the other the other thing is i've told scott this a number of times i i always say i the fair is so much fun we get down to the end of fair week and and generally there's not a grandstand program on that closing saturday afternoon and and i know that that the fair board and the track crew they have a lot going on and usually they're busy setting up the arena for the demolition derby but if at all possible i would love to talk to the fair board say you know so often that closing saturday the the temperatures in the low 80s and there's no humidity and it just seems like it'd be a it'd be fun to find one more excuse for one more afternoon to sit out in that grand stand and enjoy the fair seven days of racing huh there we go you knew where i was heading with that exactly uh if i could improve one more thing we've got such great community support the people who want to give me prizes to give away all week sometimes i run into the trouble of having enough time to give these prizes away and what i love most about it is the people on the grand stand the vendors here at the fair the food vendors they want to give me coupons and i want to try and support the vendors here at the fair i enjoy giving coupons away for the popcorn stand the iced tea stand the elephant ear stand they're all very generous they come up to me and say hey give this away at the races give that away at the races and i want to do more of that and support the people who support the fair here both on and off the fairgrounds tyler thank you appreciate your coverage that you gave the fair and gave to racing this year it's a big help and we appreciate the publicity absolutely tyler we're glad to talk to you we're glad to do anything that helps promote the fair we good to see you here every day this week and hopefully see you next year too looking forward to it guys you<br><!-- wp:image {"id":1776,"sizeSlug":"large","linkDestination":"none"} -->rn<figure class="wp-block-image size-large"><img class="wp-image-1776" src="" alt="Interview-Kurt Becker &amp; Scott Beal-Voice &amp; Emcee for Effingham County Fair Harness Racing!" /></figure>rn<!-- /wp:image -->[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Interview-Kurt Becker &amp; Scott Beal-Voice &amp; Emcee for Effingham County Fair Harness Racing!


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