Fun and games: Washington County Fair

Youth were leading goats, feeding turkeys and brushing cows, rides were being inspected and vendors were getting set up at the Washington County Fairgrounds Friday night.

Fair preparation was in full swing as everyone prepared for about 17,000 people to descend on a full weekend of showing animals, eating fried food and twirling though the air on rides. The fair kicks off with a parade at 10 a.m. Saturday and the midway opens at noon.

Brianna King, 15, of Fleming, was feeding her fair project-a turkey-Friday afternoon.

“I only have one (in the fair),” she said, adding, “I bought (12) birds to take care of.”

King said chores with the birds are daunting sometimes.

“It’s a lot of work, getting up in the morning, feeding and watering them before school,” she said. “(I’ve done it) about three years…My older siblings take turkeys, too.”

Out of all the activities, King said she’s looking forward to one thing only, as many others are.

“Just doing well in my animal classes,” she said. “Everyone has put a lot of work into it and we all want to win.”

Fair Board President Fred Boyd said overall the fair hasn’t changed, but the Labor Day schedule has been jazzed up.

“Monday we added a motorcross,” he said. “It hasn’t been done here for a lot of years…Monday night is also the Northeast Ohio Dukes of Hazzard Stunt Show. They do five different stunts with that, and play out roles of the sheriff chasing the Dukes (like in the show ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’).”

There is also a new rodeo in town.

“We got the Broken Horn Rodeo,” he said. “We just decided to try something different this year.”

Boyd said there are also six local bands that will perform in Civitan Park.

“There’s two each day and in the evening, we’re having karaoke,” he added.

Another new thing in the mix is a timber show.

“I think it was trying to come up with some ideas of what hasn’t been here,” said Boyd. “What we were really trying to do was change some things and make people more involved with the fair. We’ve tried to do something different for all ages and I think we did that.”

Patrick Roger, worker for Cromer United, was helping Friday to set up the rides, a few of which are new.

“Right now we have the state inspectors here; they’re making sure (the rides) are safe and sound for the children tomorrow,” he said. “If they find anything wrong, we go right behind them and fix it. We go through this every week.”

The company, out of Eaton, has been hitting many a fair and festival over the last few weeks.

Jeff Hartline, 40, of Marietta, was taking care of his daughter’s goats before she arrived. He said seeing the youth show their animals is an important part of the fair.

“I’m just looking forward to (my daughter, Julia) showing,” he said. “We have a bunch of cattle and this is the first time she wanted to take goats. I’m looking forward to seeing how the kids do; watching the kids is the fun part.”

Kim Henry, a member of the Washington County Garden Club, was checking on the plants below the skating rink. They ranged from cacti to orchids.

“I’m making sure they all have tags and they have been placed in the correct classes,” she said.

Henry said Saturday is the day to bring in arrangements and specimens, which generally consists of a single flower, like a rose, in a glass jar.

Olivia Cary, 22, of Marietta, was ready to attend her first fair with her son.

“I’ve never been to the Marietta fair; I used to live in Morgan County,” she said. “We’re just kind of getting a peep right now (of what tomorrow will bring).”

Daily admission for those 6 and older is $9, while those 5 and under are free. Senior citizens can get in for $6 and an ID may be required.

Boyd said the weather can be a deciding factor on attendance.

“Last year we figured 17,000 (people came to the fair),” he said. “I’m hoping for more (this year). With good weather, I’m hoping the acts, like the motorcross and the Dukes, will add a few thousand. If the weather holds it will be a fair that Washington County and surrounding counties can enjoy.”