Portage County-Randolph Fair heading for record (with gallery)

By Mike Sever | staff writer Published:

The Portage County-Randolph Fair wound up its six-day run Sunday night after a near-perfect run of weather and with crowds every day. Earlier Sunday, Charles Breiding, president of the fair board, said attendance was headed toward a record year.

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By mid-afternoon, Breiding said paid attendance was 3,900 over last year. On Friday, 11,997 attended and on Saturday, 21,022 people came through the gates.

"And (Bates Amusements) ride company said the set an all-time record on Saturday," Breiding said.

This year's sunny and milder weather seemed to be a hit with fairgoers, fair board secretary Diane Wise said. And Thursday night's bull riding and barrel racing show drew a capacity crowd.

"People loved it. And they couldn't believe we gave it away for free," Breiding said. The fair board is already looking at the possibility of the show's return for next year, he said.

Watch: 2013 Portage County-Randolph Fair demolition derby

Saturday, there was an alarm over supposed counterfeit money being passed at the fair. Portage County Sheriff's deputies tracked down and identified three men, one of whom had an active warrant from Summit County. That man was turned over to Summit authorities. No counterfeit money was found on them. One possible counterfeit bill was found at the fair, authorities said.

In the final days of the fair, animals and other items are auctioned, including the wood sculptures carved all week by chainsaw sculptor Ben Risney. The money raised goes to the fair board to bring Risney back each year to amaze people with images carved from green logs. This year's auction raised $9,000 and gave a salute to a veteran.

See: See user-submitted fair photos

Breiding said one sculpture was purchased by a Vietnam War veteran. "(Risney) said, 'Why don't we give it to him as thanks for his service?' So we did."

One of the oldest items on display this year was a small, red shed inside the Ravenna Oil booth.

The shed was possibly the earliest gasoline station in Portage County. Jed Wise said the station, which consists of a 120-gallon tank in the bottom and a hand pump and nozzle above, was used in Ravenna between 1908 and 1913.

It was owned by Dale Dietrich, a Hupmobile and Brush runabout dealer, at his dealership at 413 W. Main St., across from the Babcock Mill.

The station was known to be the first curb service gasoline station on the main road between Akron and Youngstown and possibly the only one between Akron and Pittsburgh, Pa.

Jed said the station was acquired by his grandfather and it was used as a display in the Ravenna Auto Parts store for about 10 years in the 1960s before being stored. Its last public appearance was in 1984 - at the Randolph fair.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or msever@recordpubcom

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Twitter: @MikeSever_RC

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