The 157th edition of the Hartford Independent Fair opens Sunday, and fair manager Larry Hughes said, weather permitting, he believes the 2015 Hartford Fair could break an attendance record.
“Last year 220,000 fair-goers came through the gates, we’d like to be at 250,000 this year,” Hughes said. “Our biggest night is Friday when we have a Rough Truck Contest at the grandstand. We’ll get 50,000 people on Friday if the weather cooperates.”
Hughes said the Hartford fair has the grounds to accommodate that number, and the fair has free and adequate parking.
“Of course, youth is what we’re here for,” Hughes said. “4-H and FFA entries seem to be up. We definitely have more hogs this year. The barn is full. We’re 22 pens short. We’ll have to put up a tent for those extra 22 exhibitors.”
Hughes noted that the Hartford Fair, like fairs throughout Ohio during 2015, will not have poultry exhibits due to the Ohio Department of Agriculture ban on live birds in response to avian flu.
“Because we’re so close to the egg farm, we decided before the state there would be no poultry at our fair this year,” Hughes said. “The Ohio Department of Agriculture ban on poultry came along and made it easy on us.”
Hughes said members of the Hartford Junior Fair Board are a critical component of the Hartford Independent Fair’s success each year.
“Without members of the Junior Fair Board it would be very hard for the shows to go off as they do,” Hughes said. “They do a super job — they clean, they move chairs around, they’re always willing to help us out.”
Hughes said grandstand seats are always free.
Sunday the grandstand features ATV Razor Races; Monday it’s country music with Clark Manson opening for Frankie Ballard; Tuesday is an OSTPA-sanctioned truck/tractor pull; on Wednesday the fair hosts Figure 8 Pickup Races and a demolition derby; Thursday it’s Fat Traxx Motocross Racing; Friday Rough Truck; and on Saturday the grandstand’s final event of the fair is a championship horse pull.
“We’re installing a new chain-link fence at the center of the grandstand’s infield bleachers to protect spectators during motor events,” Hughes said.
If you want to camp out at the Hartford fair, bring your checkbook to get in the lottery for next year’s camping. The fair’s 450 campsites are already booked, Hughes said, although there may be six or seven primitive sites (no water, no electricity) available on opening day.
The Hartford fair’s gate price is $7, for ages 8 and older. On Monday, senior citizens and veterans enter the fairground for $3 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Season tickets are available for $30 from Sunbury’s Washington Carquest. Membership tickets, at $35 each, are available to Delaware County residents living in Harlem, Trenton, Porter and Berkshire townships.
Preferred parking behind the swine complex is $20 for the entire week. Contact the fair office for more information.
Fair-goers with disabilities can rent scooters, or they can bring their own scooters, but Hughes said no golf carts are allowed on the fairgrounds.
“Everybody tells us the Hartford Fair is the best-kept secret in Licking, Knox and Delaware counties,” Hughes said. “Our cleanliness matches up with any other fair in Ohio. We hope everybody comes out and enjoys themselves. The Hartford fair is a good place for a family gathering.”
The Hartford Independent Fair runs from Sunday, Aug. 9, through Saturday, Aug. 15.
The Hartford fairground is located at 14028 Fairgrounds Road, just north of Croton (aka Hartford).
For additional information, log on to < hartfordfair.com > or call the fair office at 740-893-4881.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093