Country music concerts, quilts, dinosaurs, a talent show, harness racing and the Junior Fair are among the attractions at this year’s Delaware County Fair, Sept. 16-23.

Two up-and-coming country entertainers, fiddler-singer Chris Higbee (Sept. 16) and traditional country singer Ray Scott (Sept. 23) will headline the concerts, but there will also be a variety of music heard from the WDLR stage throughout the week. Also on the stage on Sept. 23 is a local talent show put on by the county’s high schools, as well as Columbus State Community College and Ohio Wesleyan University students.

Popular strolling entertainers such as Professor Bubblemaker and an Abraham Lincoln impersonator will return, but new this year is the Dinosaur Xperience on the first weekend. The dinosaur will also do a photo opportunity in the coliseum, and his handlers will do some magic shows, too. Among the stationary entertainers is Sunbury chainsaw carver Dave Crego.

Although the county’s fair takes place more than a month after the state fair, it leads in at least one category.

“Our open class quilt show was larger last year than the Ohio State Fair’s quilt show,” said Delaware County Fair General Manager Sandy Kuhn. She also said there will also be an increased number of vendors and a reduced military display. There are familiar themed days, such as Senior Citizen Day (Tuesday) and Veterans Day (Friday).

In addition to the usual closing night fireworks show around 9:30 p.m., there will be some new events in the motorsports area. On Thursday (Sept. 21), Jon Anthony & Wishful Drinkin Band, will perform at 7 p.m.; and Friday (Sept. 22) is Trailer Races at 7 p.m.

“This is something we saw down at Columbus Motor Speedway,” Kuhn said. “The goal is to get the trailer unhooked from car or truck. The winner is the last trailer standing.”

While this year’s Little Brown Jug won’t be televised as it had the past two seasons, this edition of the crown jewel of harness racing should still be exciting, with Delaware’s Brian Brown training two of the favorites, Fear the Dragon and Downbytheseaside. In addition to Delaware and surrounding counties, there will be groups from Australia and Canada here this year to see the races.

Admission prices are the same, except for weekly passes, which are now $40 and available at Kroger’s on Houk Road and in Lewis Center. Kuhn said some tickets are being given away by Genoa Township and Olentangy Schools.

Before the fair is put on, there will be inspections by the City of Delaware and Delaware County, Kuhn said. In addition, there is consultation with the Delaware General Health District due to reports of swine flu at other fairs earlier this year.

“We’ll have a vet check all the hogs as they’re coming in,” she said. “We’ve already decided we’ll have a quarantine area in the back should we notice one. The concern is it’s one that is transmittable between humans. We’ll have a lot of hand washing stations, signs saying don’t take your food to the barns, and if you pet an animal, wash your hands.”

Thanks to a voter-approved hotel tax, improvements have been made at the fairgrounds, Kuhn said.

“It’s definitely been a blessing. We’ve been able to do some upgrades on the cabin, it’s getting all new LED lighting, under the grandstand we’ll have LED lighting and new paint. We’re building two new tote boards out on the infield, addressing some drainage issues back in junior fair camping, paving a driveway at the armory gate.”

On display at the fair will be drawings of the new Junior Fair Building that the Agricultural Society (who puts on the fair) hopes will be ready for next year’s event.

There will be more than 1,200 4-H participants in the Junior Fair, Kuhn said, and some actually do community service at the fairgrounds before it opens to the public.

“Some came out in July after the Master Gardener plant sale and if there are any plants left over, we can have for the fair,” Kuhn said. The clubs came out and helped to plant them around the fairgrounds. One club is painting benches for us, and it was a project they identified as they walked around. We’d like to get a lot more of them. Then we get the Delaware Area Career Center’s construction management, horticulture and equine program come in for about a week before the fair and do a lot of weeding on the infield, enhancing the winner’s circle. Last year they worked on restoring the bleachers.

Kuhn said this year, the fair will use clickers to help get a better sense of the attendance. In the past, it was based solely on gate sales, which were up last year, she said.

In some years, attendance has been affected by the Ohio State football schedule. This year, it shouldn’t be bad, with the Buckeyes facing Army (Sept. 16) and UNLV (Sept. 23). That leaves weather as the only obstacle — it only rained one day last year, but it was hot, especially on Jug Day.

“I tease that last year I requested sunny and 70, and got sunny and 90,” Kuhn said. “So this year I’m going to request sunny and 80.”

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FAIR PREVIEW

By Gary Budzak

gbudzak@aimmediamidwest.com