GREENVILLE - The county’s largest festival, the Great Darke County Fair, opens Friday morning with a grand opening ceremony at 8 a.m. at Gate 2 with a ribbon cutting featured.
Promised are nine days and evenings of activity for the entire family, not only for countians but for the surrounding area as well as visitors from out of state.
The fair, for some, is like a family reunion, bringing together relatives and lifelong friends. Romance has even been found there.
Fair Manager Daryl Riffle is anticipating attendance to be in the 200,000 range, providing there is good weather.
“Last year, we had 214,000 in attendance,” said Riffle, who has been fair secretary since Aug. 1, 2005 [thus, it’s his tenth fair]. “For the last three years, we broke the previous year’s attendance record.”
Several new features include a new beef and dairy building; new people movers (shuttles); new first Friday night north-end livestock traffic pattern.
He said there are 24 new non-food vendors and three new food vendors coming to the Great Darke County Fair.
In addition to the new north-end livestock traffic pattern, there will be a new entry/exit traffic-pedestrian flow at Gate 1.
“It’s not new, but the third annual Gene Riegle Memorial Harness Race purse for Aug. 22 is $30,000,” he said.
The 158th annual Great Darke County Fair features daily themes. The first Saturday is Visitors Day, Monday is Kids and Junior Fair Day, Ministers, Children and Seniors Citizens Day; Tuesday is Industrial Day; Wednesday, Armed Forces Day; Thursday, Homecoming Day; and Friday, Rural Urban Day.
The fair closes at 11 p.m. Aug. 23.
Planned all week are livestock shows, midway activity including amusement rides, games and concessions, entertainment, a wide variety of vendors, harness horse racing, tractor pulls, pageants, judgings, flower shows, 4-H revues, cheerleading competition, demonstrations, fine and domestic arts exhibited, horseshoe tournaments, a demolition derby and a parade of champions.
“Contractors are working until this Tuesday on the cattle barn construction,” Riffle said. “The building will not be completed but it will be usable. It will be completed in September.”
Sunday’s entertainment this year is Josh Turner and Scotty McCreery in front of the Grandstand.
Fair ticket prices have gone up this year. They are now $6 per person daily for ages 12 and older. Those ages 11 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. The nine day pass is now $20 a person for ages 12 and older.
“In 2002, nine-day tickets went from $10 to $15 and the entire $5 price increase went into a capital improvement fund,” Riffle explained. “Prices have been at $15 for nine days and $5 daily since that time. This year’s price increase will also go into a capital improvement fund, making the total capital improvement contribution $10.”
The nine-day admission passes are gender specific. Female passes are pink in color and male passes, blue in color.
Gates open daily at 7 a.m., vendors at 10 a.m. and rides open at noon. Vendors close from 9 to 11 p.m., rides close at 11 p.m. while the gates close at midnight.
No dogs will be permitted on the fairgrounds during the annual Fair unless they are exhibition dogs (no overnight stay permitted) or working medical service dogs with documentation.
“We ask all fair-goers to be safe and patient as they travel to and from the fair, and, of course, while they are visiting the fair,” Riffle concluded. “We ask fair-goers to use the mindset of if you see something…say something. Please report any suspicious activity.”