New attractions mixed with the traditional offerings will greet those who head to this year’s running of the 197th Great Geauga County Fair.
“Since 1823 we’ve had something for everyone and we still do,” Fair Secretary Paul Harris said.
The fair opened its five-day run this Thursday with 13,000 exhibits to see and more than 2,000 animals to spend time with. Those traditions will be part of the fair along with the first running of the new KOI Drag Racing. The dirt drag racing crew will begin the action 7 p.m. Thursday at the Main Grandstand.
Mr. Harris said all of the favorite attractions, such as the chicken-flying contest, frog jumping contest and the diaper dash, will return along with a newcomer in the Lewis & Clark Circus. The circus will be found under the big top tent along the midway. The circus is free with admission, Mr. Harris said, and will perform four shows daily.
Also providing four showings each day are the B&B Magic Show and the Racing Pigs. The racing pigs have taken on a growing fan base, Mr. Harris said. “The biggest question we get is where are the racing pigs,” he said. “It used to be where are the restrooms.”
The Travelin’ River Boat, a one-man band, will provide non-stop music to keep the atmosphere lively as fairgoers move from one attraction to the next.
Thursday also offers free admission to those who arrive before noon, which has earned the slogan, “Fun Day, Fair Day.”
Television personalities will be on hand Thursday with Kenny Crumpton, of “Kickin’ it with Kenny” welcoming fair visitors and weather forecaster Melissa Mack, hosting the Chicken Flying Contest at noon. The chicken flying contest also gives Kenston and West Geauga Schools an opportunity to win bragging rights for a year as the two do their best to send off the winning bird. The entertainment really begins as those who raise the chickens scurry around the arena trying to corral the chickens who have flown the coop.
All-day ride tickets can be had for $15 on Thursday and Friday, $20 on Saturday and Sunday and $10 on Monday.
Friday is set aside for senior citizens and veterans, who receive free admission the entire day. Seniors are invited to get together for free programs offered through the Geauga County Department on Aging.
Horse pulls are slated to begin Friday at 6 p.m. in the Main Grandstand followed by a free concert from Chris Higbee at 8 p.m. in the Small Grandstand.
The full slate of activities continues Saturday and those with a sweet tooth will want to get their bid in at the apple pie auction 1 p.m. in the Vernon Howard Pavilion. The hard work that 4-H youth put in all year will be rewarded when they say good-bye to their animals at the livestock auction 2:30 p.m. in the Livestock Arena.
A hot air balloon ascension can be viewed 7 p.m. Saturday at the Main Grandstand, followed by the wild action of the demolition derby at 8:30 p.m., also at the Main Grandstand.
Truck and Tractor Pulls take center stage Sunday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Grandstand.
The fair wraps up the excitement on Labor Day with the Broken Horn Rodeo 3 p.m. at the Main Grandstand.
And, Mr. Harris said, no one should miss the Natural Resource Area, open each day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., where you can tag a Monarch butterfly, learn to make maple candy from the Northeast Ohio Maple Producers, take in the “Dogs that Make a Splash” or just drop a line into the stocked pond and find a big fish story. Fishing begins each day at noon.
“That area in itself is worth the price of admission,” Mr. Harris said.
Mr. Harris said fair officials do remain on “high alert” for a masked bandit who paid a visit two years ago to the fair. Still on the loose, a crafty raccoon made his way into the domestic building and helped himself to the baked goods.
While the fair directors may get much of the credit for putting on the fair each year, Mr. Harris said it is the hundreds of volunteers that show up each year for another successful run.
“The directors can put the puzzle out there, but you need the volunteers to put the puzzle together,” he said.