SIDNEY — Carload Night is Monday.
The biggest news about the 2016 Shelby County Fair is a change in the schedule for Carload Night. That’s the night that fairgoers can pile into vehicles to gain admittance to the fair for a reduced price. It has been on the same night during fair week for many years, but this year, it changes to Monday.
From 4 to 9 p.m., at Gate D, vehicles will be charged $30 no matter how many people are in them. The price gets vehicle occupants admission to the fair and all rides.
Other changes were necessitated by scheduling two days of horse racing at the grandstand.
“The horse racing industry in Ohio has come back,” said Shelby County Agricultural Society Secretary and fair Director Jerry Schaffner. “Because it had gone down, we could get racing done in one night. Having two nights means paying another day for the starting gate, the photo finish (equipment), and so on. Because of the racinos, we get a percentage (of profits). That will help pay for expenses. So now, there are two nights of racing.”
Harness races will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, beginning at 5 p.m.
The cheerleading competition was moved to Sunday.
“It will be the first night of the fair instead of the last,” Schaffner said. The tractor pull has been scheduled for Thursday and the pig and calf scramble for Friday night. The demolition derby will be Saturday night.
“Mud bogs will be Saturday at noon and the draft horse show will be Friday at 9 a.m.,” he added. In the past, the demolition derby and the pig and calf scramble have drawn the largest grandstand crowds.
This year, spectators will be watching from rented bleachers. The former grandstand was demolished in March. The bleachers will accommodate 900 people. In 2015, the two largest events had audiences of about 750 people, each.
“So there should be plenty of room,” Schaffner said. “And other small bleachers may be added.” Admission to the grandstand will be free for the cheerleading competition, the horse races and the human tractor pull, which is set for Monday. A $2 admission fee will be charged for the demolition derby, the pig and calf scramble and the tractor pull.
Fair-goers may have to search to see the poultry exhibits this year. That’s because so many rabbits have been entered that bunny cages will fill the tent that usually serves rabbits and poultry.
“They’ll be somewhere, but not where people can typically see them,” said 4-H Youth Development Educator Laura Norris. According to Norris, after 2015’s fair that was devoid of poultry because of fears about avian flu, many 4-H members who might have had poultry projeccts switched to rabbits. As a result, the Junior Fair tattooed some 700 market rabbits last month. Exhibitors can tattoo up to seven rabbits but can exhibit just five, so there won’t Norris doesn’t expect to see 700 rabbits at the fair.
“But we’ll see 500,” she said. In past years, 500 have been tattooed and many fewer were exhibited.
“And that’s just market rabbits. That doesn’t include breeding rabbits,” Norris said. Breeding rabbits don’t stay at the fair. Their owners take them for judging on Sunday and then take them home.
To accommodate poultry this year, pens will be put in available areas in Baby Land and chickens may join ducks, geese and turkeys in the poultry area behind Show Arena II.
Besides rabbits, there has also been an increase in registrations of pygmy goats for the 2016 fair.
Norris noted that the week before the fair is just as busy as fair week for Junior Fair participants. Prefair week, as it is known, is 4-H cooking, sewing, craft and photography projects are judged.
“The amount of projects that the kids take is awesome,” Norris said. “We have a whole week of prefair judging. Some counties have only one day. It’s fascinating, the commitment these kids have to these projects.”
Shelby County is known especially for the quality of its Junior Fair photography entries. There will be seven photography judges this year to assess them all.
“Shelby County is one of the top five counties in state fair winners in photography,” Norris said. “One of our judges is also a state fair judge and she says she judges more here than at the state fair.”
Kids corn pit
Breezy Yinger, of Jackson Center, and Mitch Bambauer, owner of Bambauer Fertilizer & Seed Inc., of Jackson Center, will install a new attraction for the youngest fair-goers. The Kids Corn Pit will be near the mechanical rides and will be open for unsupervised play by children 5 and younger.
“It’ll be a big sandbox with corn instead of sand,” Yinger said. “We’ll have some shovels and buckets to play with. The area will be fenced in and under a tent, but parents will have to supervise their own kids. There won’t be someone there all the time to watch.”
Broadbeck Seeds will supply the tent. Bambauer will supply the corn. The pit will be about 16 feet long, 8 feet wide and 2 feet deep. It will take approximately 200 bushels of corn to fill it, Bambauer said.
“I hope this is something that can continue (in future years), especially if kids enjoy it,” Yinger said.
Aluminun can drive
Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation (SCARF) has issued a challenge to Shelby County 4-H clubs: The club that takes the most aluminum cans to the fairgrounds during the fair for recycling in SCARF’s Cans for Canines program wins a pizza party.
4-H club members — and the general public — can contribute cans from 1 to 4 p.m. each day of the fair. Cans should be dropped off at the Shelby County Sheriff’s outpost on the fairgrounds. There, D.A.R.E. Officer Brian Strunk will oversee members of the office’s Explorer Post, who will weigh the cans and load them onto trailers for transport to the recycling center.
Each 4-H club will be credited with a donation equal to the value of the cans. If a club’s donation reaches qualifying levels, the club will be recognized on the wall of fame when SCARF builds a new animal shelter.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.