Days before the 155th annual Portage County-Randolph Fair opens this week, the fairgrounds are quietly coming alive.
Trailers full of rides for the midway from Bates Amusement Inc. were already on the grounds last week, adding to the excitement -- the fair is coming. Volunteers are doing a final sprucing up of the grounds, waiting for move-in day today, when the animals begin to arrive.
Fair board president Charlie Breiding said everything is ready for Tuesday's opening and officials are keeping a close eye on the weather. Early in fair week the forecast is for a chance of isolated showers and clearing as the week goes on. Breiding said that's OK.
"The demolition derby (Tuesday and Wednesday) can survive that," he said.
But, as most seasoned fair-goers know, it wouldn't be a fair without a little rain. For many, going to the fair is like putting on a favorite old coat. It's comfortable, it's familiar and it brings to mind memories of enjoyable times. From the 4-H competitions to the midway rides, from the displays of ribbon-winning exhibits to the food booths, the fair is a familiar, fun experience for generations.
While maintaining the familiar, there is new entertainment this year. Elements of the rodeo will return after more than a decade's absence. Extreme bull riding and barrel racing will be featured in the grandstand arena at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"Admission is free but the suggested donation is one canned food item" per person, Breiding said. The nonperishable, unexpired goods will be donated to area food pantries as a thank you for the community support shown to the fair over the years, he said.
Also new this year will be two additional "people movers" -- tractor-towed wagons with seats to save fairgoers some walking around the grounds.
General fair admission is still $5 and $1 for children 6 to 11 years of age (children under 6 are admitted free). An adult season pass is $15 and $4 for children ages 6 to 11.
Thursday is Kids Day with children 12 and under free.
Friday is Senior Citizens (60 and over) and Veterans Day with seniors and veterans admitted free.
Grandstand events start at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday with the demolition derby. Thursday at 7 p.m. is the extreme bull riding and barrel racing followed by a free concert with DeWayne Spaw.
Friday's grandstand event is the tractor and truck pulls starting at 7 p.m. which repeat on Saturday.
Sunday, the final day of the fair, has a rough truck contest at 3:30 p.m. at the grandstand. SClB Tuesday's 11 a.m. opening day ceremony will include the family of Dave Moulton, who died Nov. 29, 2012. Moulton grew up on the family farm in Rootstown and taught vocational agriculture at Maplewood Career Center from 1975 to 2002.
He was instrumental in establishing the maple syrup sales program. Moulton was also extremely active in the community and the Rootstown Chamber of Commerce. He coached wrestling at Waterloo schools and wrestling and football at Rootstown High School. He was also active with the Portage County Boys and Girls Club and 4-H.
"He was a huge part of the Randolph/Rootstown area and was just a great guy," said fair board secretary Diane Wise.
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