BARLOW - Rounding out the local fair season, the 141st annual Barlow Fair begins today, and fair organizers say they are confident an array of exciting new offerings will make it the best Barlow Fair to date.
"There is so much stuff going on. They will not be disappointed," said Barlow Fair Board member Denise Tessum of this year's fair attendees.
In fact, this year's fair features one surprise so big that Tessum believes it is a first for Washington County.
"I can't say what it is going to be or even when, but if you are lucky enough to be at the fair at the right time, you are going to be in for a huge surprise," said a tight-lipped Tessum.
One big improvement Tessum can talk about is this year's ride selection.
"It will be a great midway. We specified that we wanted the rides for the older kids so we have the whole spectrum of ages being covered," said Tessum.
2012 Barlow Fair Highlights
* 5 p.m. - Tractor pull - speed pull
* 6 - 10 p.m. - Rides open
* 6 p.m. - Tractor pull
* 8 p.m. - Musical act, Randy & The Renegades
* 6 - 11 p.m. - Rides open
* 10 a.m. - Draft horse pull
* Noon - Garden tractor pull
* 5:30 p.m. - Feeder calf sale
* 8 p.m. - Music, Zach Paxson
* Noon - 5 p.m.; 6 p.m. - 11 p.m. - Rides open
* 10 a.m.- Church with Dr. Lloyd Dennis
* Noon - Tug pull
* Noon - 4 p.m. - Rides open
Single Day Admission (Rides not included)
* Ages 0-5: Free
* Ages 6-12: $1
* FFA and 4-H exhibitors: $4
* Ages 13 and over: $5
Four Day Pass (Rides not included)
* $15 (includes voting privileges for Washington County residents)
Ride Passes (In addition to fair admission)
* $15 per day
* $1 per ticket
* $20 for 24 tickets
Finding a larger ride company willing to travel to a somewhat smaller fair can be challenging, said Tessum, but fair board president Joe Campbell managed to convince Big O Amusements that the Barlow Fair was a great stop on their fair schedule.
In addition to more exciting ride offerings, the fair has several new activities for families to enjoy.
A company of Civil War reenacters, Carlin's Battery D, will have a tent set up at the fair all weekend which will depict what life was like for Civil War soldiers, said Tessum.
The group will have displays set up and answer questions about civil war artillery. They will also have their civil war era cannon at the fair, which they will fire after Friday and Saturday night's entertainment, said Jim Miracle, coordinator for Carlin's Battery D.
"The night fire is like a single shot fireworks display. We do a special charge with a lot more fire and spoke to come out the end, but it is still very safe. It's pretty spectacular," said Miracle of the cannon.
Also new this year is a 1,000-gallon above ground fishing pond provided by the Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District in cooperation with the Barlow Mechanical and Agricultural Society, the Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Washington County Fish and Game Club. The portable pond will be stocked with bluegill and catfish and the SWCD will provide fishing poles so children can actually fish in the tank, said Tessum.
"It will be like something your grandparents would have used-a bamboo pole with a line attached," said Dean Sinclair, the Wildlife and Forestry Specialist for the Washington County SWCD.
The group will also be setting up an archery tunnel at the fairgrounds and instructors will be on hand to teach children how to shoot a bow and arrow. The tunnel is completely encircled by Kevlar reinforced netting which make sure no arrows leave the area, said Sinclair.
Fair goers will also have the chance to fly some very big kites at this year's fair. The New Era Kite Club will be bringing some of its show kites, such as a 33-foot octopus kite, to the fair.
"They are going to be flying on the hillside overlooking the tractor pull and horse arena. Anybody who would like to can sign up and have fly time on the big kites," said Tessum.
For those wanting to sit and take a break from all the action, The Friends of the Barlow Library will be hosting afternoon tea time on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, said Anna Henry, manager of the Barlow Branch of the Washington County Public Library.
"We're going to set up some tables and chairs and have afternoon tea at the fair with teapots and cups and saucers," said Nancy Gribble, president of Friends of the Barlow Library.
Gribble and the group will be serving tea in the Victorian style, by brewing loose tea leaves. Everyone is welcome, and the group will likely have a suggested donation to raise funds for the Friends of the Barlow Library, said Gribble.
Tessum also encourages everyone to enter the fair's pumpkin decorating and largest pumpkin contests, the entries for which need to be received by noon Thursday.
While the fair features a dizzying array of new activities this year, people looking forward to past favorite's at the Barlow Fair will not be disappointed.
Between 20 and 30 tractors are expected to participate at this year's tractor pulls, which are always huge crowd pleasers, said Barlow Fair Board member Sidney Brackenridge.
Friday night's fair parade is also expected to draw a large crowd.
"Its pretty much the same classic parade that people love," said Bill Mitchell, secretary of the Lion's Club, which sponsors the parade.
The parade begins Friday at 6 p.m. on Ohio 339 in Vincent and will pass Warren High School on its way to the fairgrounds. Dr. Lloyd and Yolan Dennis, who have lived in the Barlow area for more than 27 years, are this year's parade marshals.
The parade will feature fire trucks, classic cards and plenty of candy for the little ones, said Mitchell.
The always popular feeder calf sale will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Around 85 feeder calves will be entered this year, estimated Brackenridge.
Finally, the Barlow Fair will feature musical entertainment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Zach Paxson, who performs Saturday at 8 p.m., recently performed at the Parkersburg Homecoming, and is a real crowd pleaser, said Tessum.
An official schedule can be found on the fair's website at www.barlowfair.com. Those interested in entering any of the judged contests, including the pumpkin decorating, can contact Tessum at 336-0558. More information is also available on the Barlow Fairgrounds Facebook page.