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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2001

Wood County Fair springs to life

BY BRIAN CROCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

More concession booths than ever crowded together along the hot asphalt of the fair's midway: Balloon Darts, 4-H Milkshakes, and the Wonderland Arcade rubbed shoulders with the Amish Oak Gallery and official Verizon Wireless displays.

“We've brought in more commercial exhibits this year,” said Glenn Bechstein, the president of the Wood County Agricultural Society. “They're what brings the people in.”

Around 6 p.m., rides like “The Inverter” and “Super Trooper” sprang to life, filling the air with the screams of riders.

“This is only the first day. We're just getting started here,” said fair director Barb David, as she organized the opening ceremonies from the infield in front of the fair's grandstand. Trucks, tractors, trailers and sports cars raised clouds of dust as they pulled into position behind her.

Clad in red T-shirts and white shorts, members of the Bowling Green High School marching band clutched their instruments and took in the fair, awaiting their call to line up for the youth parade, which was scheduled to follow the opening ceremonies.

No attendance figures were available, though things looked like “they would really be hopping by parade time,” Mr. Bechstein said.

More than 100,000 visitors usually make it to the fair during its week-long course.

The fair's historically rainy weather doesn't seem to bother prospective fair-goers, said Mr. Bechstein. “Unless it's a torrential downpour, people come out.”

Across the fairgrounds, competitors were gearing up for the week.

Entrants in the animal competitions tended their charges in the humid afternoon air, preparing them for the imminent judging.

“I've been competing for four years,” said 14-year old Sarah Gerwin as she stood by her three calves, which she entered in several of the Junior Fair's calf contests. “We raise the calves from January 'til now, then we bring them into the fair. It's a lot of fun.”

“The Junior Fair really provides kids with a learning experience, and a chance for positive competition,” said 19-year old Junior Fair board member Derek Rutter of Bowling Green.

The crowd milled languidly about the midways.

“I've been coming for many, many years,” said Von Graffin, a Toledo Public Schools teacher who lives in rural Bowling Green. “My daughter's in 4-H, which is my favorite part.''

The Wood County Fair runs daily through Monday at the fairgrounds on West Poe Road. Admission is $5.



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