Mix together corn dogs, cotton candy, animal displays, and carnival rides, and you've got the makings for a good county fair.
Added to that mix this summer will be special celebrations for two area fairs that observe their 150th anniversaries.
The Allen County Fair in Lima and nine other county fairs in Ohio will celebrate a century and a half of existence. Additionally, the Hillsdale County Fair in southeast Michigan observes its sesquicentennial.
In rural communities, county fairs provide a social atmosphere wrapped up in a rich agricultural tradition, with the emphasis on family entertainment. The showcase includes farm life, community organizations, and achievements of young people through 4-H and the Future Farmers of America.
When it comes to sesquicentennials, you can be sure the Ohio State Fair in Columbus will go hog wild. The Ohio State Fair annually hosts the largest junior fair in the country and is among the top in the nation when it comes to attendance, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Larry Adams, the department's assistant director, says Ohio has the nation's largest enrollment in 4-H and Future Farmers of America, in which young people compete in hundreds of events.
Ohio boasts 97 county and independent fairs.
The 2000 fair season gets under way June 19 with the Pickaway County Fair in Circleville. A day later, first fair in the northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan region opens with Putnam County's agricultural exposition, which runs June 20-25.
The Putnam County fairground in Ottawa may be somewhat light on displays of agricultural products when compared with county fairs held later in the growing season. But its fair board tries to make up difference with lively farm animal shows.
The busiest time for county fairs in northwestern Ohio will occur in August, when Allen, Defiance, Erie, Henry, Huron, Sandusky, and Wood counties offer their exhibitions and the Ohio State Fair holds its 17-day extravaganza in Columbus.
The Attica independent fair, located on the east side of Seneca County, is also staged then. Ohio has six other independent fairs.
Seventy-two of the 94 county and independent fairs offer harness racing, making Ohio the nation's leader in the number of fairs with horse racing as one of the attractions.
The three county fairs in southeastern Michigan will be held in August and September.
This summer's fair schedule includes:
Allen County - The Allen County Fair will run Aug. 18-26 at the fairground at 2750 Harding Hwy., east of Lima. Take exit 125A on I-75 and go one mile east on Harding Highway (State Rt. 309)
Defiance County - The Defiance County Fair will be at the fairground in Hicksville Aug. 19-26. The site is on South Main Street.
Erie County - The Erie County Fair, on Columbus Street south of Sandusky in Perkins Township, will be Aug. 8-16. Take State Rt. 2 to the State Rt. 250 exit and follow the signs.
Fulton County - The Fulton County Fair will occur Sept. 1-7 at the fairground on State Rt. 108 at Exit 3 of the Ohio Turnpike, about two miles north of Wauseon.
Hancock County - The Hancock County Fair will be Aug. 30-Sept. 4. To reach the fairground, take I-75 exit at State Rt. 12 and follow the signs. The site is at 1017 E. Sandusky St. at the southeast corner of Findlay.
Hardin County - The Hardin County Fair will run Sept. 5-10 at the fairground at 14134 County Road 140, south of Kenton.
Henry County - The Henry County Fair will be Aug. 11-17 at 907 Perry St. (State Rt. 108) on the south side of Napoleon.
Huron County - The Huron County Fair at 940 Fair Rd., Norwalk, is set for Aug. 13-19.
Lucas County - The Lucas County Fair will be July 25-30 at the fairground at 1406 Key St., Maumee.
Ottawa County - The Ottawa County Fair will be July 17-23 at the fairground at 7870 West Harbor Rd. (State Rt. 163), east of Oak Harbor.
Paulding County - The Paulding County Fair, Fairground Drive, Paulding, will be July 9-15.
Putnam County - The Putnam County Fair, held at 1490 East Second St., Ottawa, off U.S. Rt. 224, will be June 20-25.
Sandusky County - The Sandusky County Fair will run Aug. 22-27 at the fairground at 901 Rawson Ave., Fremont. Take the U.S. 20 bypass, exit at Rawson Avenue, and proceed south on Rawson.
Seneca County - The Seneca County Fair will run July 24-31 at the fairground at 100 Hopewell Ave., Tiffin. Take State Rt. 53 south to Euclid and turn right.
Van Wert County - The Van Wert County Fair will run Aug. 30- Sept. 6 at the fairground at 1055 South Washington St., Van Wert. Take I-75 south to U.S. 30, head west to State Rt. 127, and go south through town.
Williams County - The Williams County Fair will run Sept. 9-16 at the fairground on Main Street in Montpelier. Take the Ohio Turnpike to Exit 2, go south two miles on State Rt. 15, and turn west on State Rt. 107 to the fairground.
Wood County - The Wood County Fair will run July 31-Aug. 7 at the fairground at 13800 West Poe Rd., Bowling Green. Take U.S. 25 south to Mercer Road and go west to State Rt. 64.
Wyandot County - The Wyandot County Fair in Upper Sandusky will run Sept. 12-17. The fairground is on the north side of town on State Rt. 53.
In southeast Michigan, the fairs include:
Monroe County - The Monroe County Fair is set for July 30-Aug. 5 at the fairground at Raisinville Road and M-50, west of Monroe.
Lenawee County - The Lenawee County Fair will run Aug. 13-19 at the fairground at 602 North Dean St., Adrian.
Hillsdale County - The Hillsdale County Fair is set for Sept. 24-30. The fairground is on M-99 at the southeast corner of Hillsdale.