This summer, county fairs in the Buckeye state are returning to their roots.
Mark Bruce, communications director for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, says county fair organizers in Ohio are revitalizing efforts to connect visitors with agriculture in their respective counties by showcasing local foods, companies, produce growers, and agriculture-related youth programs, like 4-H.
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Many of Ohio and Michigan’s fairs, including the Ohio State Fair, started as celebrations of agriculture.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase agriculture to a population that is not connected to farming and where their food comes from,” said Lori Hull, manager of the Hillsdale County Fair.
County fair season in northwest Ohio will begin in less than three weeks, bringing both the agriculture-oriented staples Mr. Bruce mentioned and grandstand-packing entertainment.
Fair season kicks off on July 10 with the Lucas County Fair in Maumee. But the fun doesn’t end there; county fairs in Toledo’s neighboring counties are scheduled almost every week through mid-September.
If you’re a country fan, catch the Charlie Daniels Band in Wood County and Big & Rich in Fulton County. Or check out Skid Row and Fuel at the Monroe County Fair if you prefer to rock out to heavy metal.
For the motor vehicle-lovers, visit the Lenawee County Fair, where the Figure 8 demo, the National Tractor Pullers Association tractor pull, and the Tuff Truck & Car competition are the main attractions.
Looking for a more traditional fair experience? The birthing tent in Hillsdale County and the calf and pig scrambles in Ottawa County are must-sees.
County fairs are a bargain for an entire day of family fun. Daily admission runs $8 or under for adults and is generally free or discounted for children. Note that carnival rides and some shows or concerts require additional tickets.
When planning your day (or days) at the fair, be sure to visit these new or popular attractions:
Lucas County Fair, July 10-15
New to the Lucas County Fair this year is the firefighter training show. Held three times a day on July 10-12, the show is interactive entertainment that will also educate children about fire safety.
Also look for Ultimate Air Dogs, billed as an “amazing competition of flying dogs,” and the Lucas County Firefighter Challenge, in which registered teams compete against each other in an obstacle course. The challenge is back by popular demand after being introduced for the first time last year.
Location: 1406 Key St., Maumee
Hours: Gates open daily at 9 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. July 10-12, at 11 p.m. July 13-14, and 7 p.m. July 15.
Admission: $6 per person, free for children under 12; Free gate admission from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 10 and 11.
Konner Stole of Oak Harbor rides a pony that is being guided by Joanna Barns of Fremont during the Ottawa County Fair in 2017.
Ottawa County Fair, July 16-22
You can expect a classic fair lineup at the Ottawa County Fair, where popular events include harness horse racing July 16 and 17 and a tractor pull ($5) July 21.
Don’t miss the fair’s scramble night on July 18, with a calf scramble for those 15 and older and a pig scramble for younger children.
Location: 7870 State Rt. 163, Oak Harbor
Hours: Gates and midway open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m July 16-19, 8 a.m. to midnight July 20-21, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 22
Admission: $5 per person, free for children 8 and younger with paid adult
Lenawee County Fair, July 22-28
Jason Wagner, president of the Agricultural Society of Lenawee County Board of Directors, calls Lenawee County Fair “the motorsport fair.” The fair’s Figure 8 demo ($10) at 7 p.m. July 23 and 26 attracts the largest crowds. Similar to a demo derby, a Figure 8 demo is a race on a track that purposely intersects itself, which increases the frequency of collisions. Other fan favorites are the NTPA tractor pull and the Tuff Truck & Car competition, involving obstacle courses designed specifically for automobiles. General admission tickets for both events are also $10.
Location: 602 N. Dean St., Adrian.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day; midway rides are open 5 to 11 p.m., July 23, 1 to 11 p.m. July 24-28, and closed July 22.
Admission: $5 per person; free for children 9 and younger
Information and schedule: lenfair.com
Seneca County Fair, July 23-29
Country singer Bucky Covington will perform at this year’s Seneca County Fair, marking the first time the fair is hosting a headlining concert in almost a decade. Tickets for the 7 p.m. July 27 show cost between $10 and $15. Covington became the best-selling debut country artist of 2007 after competing on the fifth season of American Idol. Fans may recognize his Top 10 singles “Different World,” “I’ll Walk,” and “Good To Be Us.”
Seneca County Fair will follow the lead of other county fairs in the area by introducing KOI drag racing to the fair this year, which starts at 7 p.m. July 25. The demolition derby ($10), a crowd favorite, returns to the fair on July 29.
Location: 100 Hopewell Ave., Tiffin
Hours: Gates open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day
Admission: $7 per person; free for children 9 and younger.
Information and schedule: senecacountyfair.org
Fairgoers spin around on the Round Up ride during opening day at the Wood County Fair in 2017.
Wood County Fair, July 30-Aug. 6
The Grammy-award winning Charlie Daniels Band will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at the 145th Wood County Fair. Selling more than 20 million records during his career, 81-year-old Daniels and his group have written and performed memorable hits including “In America,” “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” and most famously, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” which won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1979. Tickets range from $25 to $40.
Other popular attractions include KOI drag racing and harness racing. The Broken Horn Rodeo at 7 p.m. Aug. 3 is new to the fair this year, with tickets going for $5.
Location: 13800 W. Poe Rd., Bowling Green
Hours: Gates open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: $7 per person; free for children 9 and younger
Information and schedule: woodcounty-fair.com
Monroe County Fair, July 29-Aug. 4
This year’s county fair will bring rock ‘n’ roll to Monroe County. Its rock show, at 6:30 p.m. on July 30, will feature the bands Skid Row and Fuel, with special guest Great White. Skid Row, an American heavy metal band formed in the late ‘80s, sold 20 million albums worldwide by 1996. Fuel, founded in the ‘90s, is known for hits such as “Shimmer,” “Hemorrhage (In My Hands),” and “Bad Day.” General admission tickets are $30.
The fair is also offering free entertainment this year. Cirque Extreme will put on “theatrical daredevil” stunt shows at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. July 29 and at 2 p.m., 5 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. July 30 through Aug. 4.
Location: 3775 S. Custer Rd., Monroe
Hours: Gates open July 29 at 10 a.m., 8 a.m. on July 30 to Aug. 4. Gates close at 11 p.m. daily.
Admission: $6 per adult; $3 per child ages 6 to 12; free for children 5 and younger
Information and schedule: monroecountyfair.com
Henry County Fair, Aug. 9-16
Hate paying extra for county fair attractions? The Henry County fair is the fair for you. All concerts and entertainment are free (excluding rides). This year, High Valley, a Canadian country music duo, will perform at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 13, and the cheerleading competition, a perennial favorite, will return to the grandstand at 6 p.m. Aug. 9.
New to the fair this year, a chainsaw artist will carve requested items for fair visitors on Aug. 10-12.
Location: 821 S. Perry St., Napoleon
Hours: Gates open at 7 a.m., and grounds close at 11 p.m.
Admission: $8 per person; free for children 12 and under
Information and schedule: henrycountyfair.org
Sandusky County Fair, Aug. 21-26
The demo derby and NTPA tractor pull are crowd favorites at the Sandusky County Fair. Keep in mind that these events, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 and 7 p.m. Aug. 25, require an additional ticket.
Make sure to check out the rides at the midway, which are included in general admission, unlike other fairs, which charge for each ride.
Location: 901 Rawson Ave., Fremont
Hours: Gates open 10 a.m. every day. Gates close at 11 p.m. Aug. 21-23, at midnight Aug. 24-25, and at 9 p.m. Aug. 26.
Admission: $8 per person (rides included), free for children 36 inches or shorter.
Information and schedule: sanduskycountyfair.com
Hancock County Fair, Aug. 29-Sept. 3
Hancock County brings an exciting lineup to this year’s fair, including the Calf Scramble on Aug. 30, the Broken Horn Rodeo on Sept. 1, and the Demo Derby on Sept.3.
Don’t miss the NTPA tractor pull on Sept. 2, which is sure to draw big crowds.
Location: 1017 E. Sandusky St., Findlay
Hours: Gates open at 8 a.m. and close at 9:45 p.m.
Admission: $7 per person, free for children under 15 accompanied by a paying adult
Information and schedule: hancockfairgrounds.org/fair-tickets-admission/
Fulton County Farm, Aug. 31-Sept. 6
Fulton County Fair is the super bowl of Ohio county fairs, said Amy Ambrose, a Fulton County Fair representative. Over the last five years, attendance has averaged 290,000 people, ranking it in approximately the top three county fairs in terms of attendance in the state. Famed country duo Big & Rich will headline the fair’s popular concert series with a performance at 7 p.m. Sept. 3. Many country fans will recognize the group’s hit, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)”. Tickets go for between $30 and $36.
Grammy award-winning ’80s pop artist Rick Springfield will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2. Springfield has sold 25 million albums and scored 17 U.S. top 40 hits, including “Jessie’s Girl” and “An Affair of the Heart.” Tickets are between $20 and $26.
For those looking for a less expensive entertainment experience, the Fulton county fair also features a plethora of free entertainment, including a Martin Family Circus performance on September 6 at 7 p.m. and mobile glass studios.
Location: 8514 State Rt. 108, Wauseon
Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Admission: $5 per person; free for children 15 and younger when accompanied by an adult
Information and schedule: fultoncountyfair.com
Hillsdale County Fair, Sept. 23-29
Be prepared to connect with farm animals on a personal level at the Hillsdale County Fair’s birthing tent, where visitors can witness the hatching of chicks and the births of dairy calves and sheep. The area receives so much foot traffic each year that no grass remains once the fair ends.
For those looking for more lighthearted festivities, grandstand events include a demo derby at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 and a Shake, Rattle, and Roll truck pull at 7 p.m. Sept. 29. Back by popular demand, the fair will host two monster truck shows on Sept. 23, at 2 and 7 p.m. These events require additional tickets. Prices of these tickets vary.
Location: 115 S. Broad St., Hillsdale, Mich.
Hours: Gates are open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: $5 per adult, $1 per child ages 10 to 14, and free for children 9 and younger.
Information and schedule: hillsdalecountyfair.org
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