WAUSEON - They still had more than a week to work, but the crew building an expansion to the First Church of God Men's Group food stand at the Fulton County Fairgrounds was making sure last Wednesday that the building would be ready for use come fair time later this week.
"It's our main fund-raiser for the year," said Jan Kieswether, of Wauseon, one of the Wauseon church's parishioners who pitched in to help nail siding onto the addition that will become the new freezer room, freeing up elbow room in the kitchen where the Men's Group serves fair food.
A few yards away, other workers began jackhammering metal pegs into the ground to anchor one of the dozens of tents that will fill the 200-acre fairgrounds' open spaces during the week-long event, which starts Friday, runs through Sept. 9, and typically attracts more than 250,000 to the complex just north of the Ohio Turnpike - many of them in campers who stay for the entire week.
The fairgrounds are about 15 miles south of Morenci, Mich.
Now in its 153rd year, the Fulton County Fair is by far the biggest event of its kind in northwest Ohio and one of the largest fairs in the state.
And more than ever, with the regional economy continuing to struggle, the fair emphasizes low-cost family fun, said Carl Buehrer, the Fulton County fair board's president.
Headlining this year's premium fair entertainment are country singer Blake Shelton, of Ada, Okla., who will take the grandstand stage at 7:30 p.m. on Labor Day, and the rock band Kansas, whose 36-year-affiliation continues with a Sunday performance, also at 7:30 p.m., on that same stage.
All seats for those two concerts are reserved, with ticket prices between $18 and $22 for Shelton and between $16 and $20 for Kansas. That does not include the regular fair admission of $5, although youth 15 and under accompanied by an adult receive free gate admission.
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