A batch of kids will be lining up on Monday to parade their horses, poultry and sheep in the ring at the 56th Ottawa County Fair. Trotters and pacers will arrive on trailers, ready to race.
It won’t be the typical county fair we’ve enjoyed for decades. Covid-19 is now a reality, and the perils of large crowds and need for social distancing has changed its complexion. It will be a familiar family fair, though, and for most people who live and work in rural Ottawa County, that’s just fine.
The exhibitors will still want to impress their family and friends.
This year’s livestock shows will be part and parcel of the Ottawa County Junior Fair. The kids will be competing with horses, sheep, steers, poultry, goats and rabbits. What is more heart-warming than a young girl with her arms wrapped around her goat? Or a young lad and his powerful young steer.
The harness racing will return, as well, on Monday and Tuesday at 5 p.m. The Ottawa County Fairgrounds oval is one of the most unique in the state, with the Portage River in the background and tall trees growing in the infield, which can have first-time horsemen shaking their heads.
We won’t be allowed to bet a few bob on the harness horses at the mutuel windows this year. The horse owners, trainers and drivers are often young reins men who grew up on a farm and have dreams of competing in big time races at Ohio’s mutuel tracks.
Fair racing in Ohio has a huge following. It’s fiercely competitive, sort of the minor leagues of horse racing. The horses may never be considered as Ohio Sires Stakes or Little Brown Jug stars, but a win at the Ottawa County Fair early in their careers will always be remembered.
Racing fans will be able to grab a hot dog, or two, and watch the starting gate come around the stretch turn with a field horses pounding behind it.
Fair food is always a big hit, says Mike Libben, a farmer and District Program Administrator at the Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District.
“We’re expecting 10 vendors of all types of food, including the Oak Harbor Lions Club opening early for breakfast,” said Libben. “The other vendors will be open for lunch and dinner.”
Thrill seekers will be waiting for Friday night’s Demolition Derby. It’s so popular that $10 admission is charged. The rest of the fair is free this year.
“That’s possible because of our day sponsors, who are Genoa Bank, Croghan Bank, Ag Credit and Fremont Federal Credit Union,” said Libben.
The kids and their livestock and horse projects will be in the spotlight on Monday through Thursday, with an online Livestock Sale on Thursday evening. Everyone can purchase livestock and support the kids by making a donation or bidding at www.bwfinaldrive.com.