Rain fails to spoil fair’s fun

MARIETTA – A rainy Sunday morning put the damper on some activities at the 2014 Washington County Fair, but by afternoon the crowds were slowly building under partly sunny skies.

“We had to reschedule the horse harness racing until noon Tuesday. The track was just too wet,” said Sandy Hickey, fair board treasurer. “But we had a good day with plenty of people in attendance Saturday.”

Overnight rains left the grounds soaked Sunday morning. Roadways leading into the grassy parking lots became muddy, and a large tractor-trailer rig bearing equipment for Sunday night’s Broken Horn Rodeo became mired while trying to cross the muddy track at the grandstands area.

“The rodeo people said the show would go on, rain or shine, as long as there’s no lightning,” Hickey said. “But the live music we had scheduled in the Civitan Park area had to be canceled due to rain. So early Sunday morning we just opened the gates and didn’t charge admission for a while because there were not a lot of activities for people to do.”

When the rain stopped in the early afternoon fairgoers were once again charged the $9 admission for ages 6 and older, while 5 and under were admitted free. Seniors pay $6, with identification.

Midway rides were scheduled to open at noon Sunday, but due to the rain it was closer to 2 p.m. when amusement company Cromer United fired up the rides for an already waiting crowd.

Kay Battin, of Vienna, was among the vendors displaying wares at the fairgrounds Sunday.

“This is my second year here,” she said. “I sell candles, dresses, crafts – a little bit of everything. But when I came in this morning it was pretty wet in front of my booth and I didn’t want people standing in water while looking at these items.”

Battin asked the fair board to haul in some sawdust to fill in the wet areas and board member Jake Hall soon showed up with a load of sawdust he began spreading in low spots in front of the booth.

“This isn’t bad, thank God. Two years ago was the worst,” Hall said, referring to the 2012 county fair that was almost completely washed out by rainstorms.

Sunday’s Junior Fair poultry and rabbit judging event, housed in its newly-built quarters, was not impacted by the weather.

Megan Whalin, 17, of Waterford, had the grand champion market chicken.

“This is my third year raising chickens. My sister, Janice, and I raise them together. It’s a group family project,” she said. “I had a grand champion during my first year, too.”

Whalin recalled last year’s displays were set up in tents after the former rabbit and poultry barn was destroyed by fire.

“It wasn’t too bad. There was plenty of ventilation for the animals,” she said.

Maddie Treadway, 19, of Warren Township, received the reserve champion market chicken award.

“It’s my 10th and last year at the fair,” she said. “And this is my second reserve champion chicken, although I received a grand champion and third-place during my second year here.”

Jacinta Taulbee, of Logan, was one of two rabbit judges from the American Rabbit Breeders Association at the fair. She was checking our a New Zealand white rabbit raised by Danielle Weddle, 18, of Newport.

“This breed is by far the largest on display here,” Taulbee said. “They’re prized for their meat quality. In May a New Zealand went for $6,000 at the Ohio State Breeders Association show in Columbus. The buyer planned to use that rabbit for breeding purposes.”

On the opposite side of the fairgrounds, on the ground floor of the Marietta Roller Rink, Fleming resident Anita Beeney, a member of the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs, conducted a flower-arranging seminar Sunday.

“We just did a simple traditional flower arrangement,” she said. “People often say they can’t do a nice arrangement, but it’s really not difficult. You just have to use a couple of techniques with a little practice.”

The flower arrangements have a long-standing tradition at the fair. Beeney said the exhibits, including flower and plant arrangements as well as garden settings, has been going on for about 60 years.

The county fair continues today with plenty of events, including Fast Traxx Motorcross Racing at noon, the Junior Fair small animal sale at 5 p.m., and the Northeast Ohio Dukes Hazzard County Stunt Show at 6 p.m. The final day of the fair will be Tuesday at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Marietta.

Today’s schedule includes:

* 8 a.m.: Junior Fair Market Lamb Showmanship, Show Arena; Junior Fair Fancy Poultry Show, Rabbit/Poultry Building

* 9 a.m.: Pony Pull, Back Side Race Track; Antique Tractor Pull, Back Side Race Track

* 10 a.m.: Junior Fair Horse Show, Horse arena; Junior Fair Market Lamb Show, Horse Arena

* Noon: Midway opens; Fast Traxx Motorcross Racing, Grandstand

* 12:30 p.m.: Ladies Lead, Show Arena

* 1 p.m.: Junior Fair Sheep Breeding Showmanship, Show Arena; Junior Fair Sheep Breeding Show, Show Arena; Cloverbud Activities, Junior Fair Building; Fun Stage – New Silver Eagle Band, Civitan Park

* 1-5 p.m.: Equipment Challenge

* 4 p.m.: Fun Stage – Pickin’ on Country Band, Civitan Park; Nail Driving Contest

* 4:30 p.m.: Small Animal Buyers Reception, Show Arena

* 5 p.m.: Junior Fair Small Animal Sale, Show Arena; Coin Hunt (Ages 12 and under), Civitan Park

* 6 p.m.: Northeast Ohio Dukes Stunt Show, Grandstand; Fun Stage – Karaoke, Civitan Park

* 11 p.m.: Midway closes.