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Published: Monday, 8/2/2004

Wood fair has something to shout about

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Miranda Wodarski, left, and her cousin, Chelsea Hafner, arrange prizes for their grandparents' game of chance at the fair. Miranda Wodarski, left, and her cousin, Chelsea Hafner, arrange prizes for their grandparents' game of chance at the fair.
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No directions should be needed to find the Wood County Fair's newest entertainment event.

The fair's first cheerleading competition is expected to be the loudest attraction on the grounds when it starts at 6:30 Friday evening in front of the grandstand.

"You've got all those girls screaming," said fair board member Cindy Harter, who added that she arranged for a powerful sound system for the cheerleaders' music as well.

Fair week starts tonight with free admission for harness racing in front of the grandstand, and continues through Monday night. With good weather, fair board members hope attendance hits 90,000 to 100,000 people over the week in Bowling Green, said Joanne Spoerl, fair secretary.

Last year the fair drew about 70,000. After three days of record crowds, the fairgrounds were hit with 9 inches of rain and three tornado warnings.

"It was just a disaster," Ms. Spoerl said.

The fair board lost money. The cheerleading competition that was to have debuted was canceled. "We took a real hit," Ms. Spoerl said.

This week fair board members hope 20 to 25 squads of cheerleaders will help boost attendance. It's the littlest cheerleaders, who are only 5 or 6 years old, whom Ms. Harter is counting on most.

"These little kids usually bring a lot of aunts and uncles," she said of cheerleading contests at other county fairs.

The Wood County Fair will give squads three minutes to present at least one cheer, one chant, and one dance routine. About half the cheerleaders expected are coming with their junior high or high school squads. The rest are part of community or gymnastics team squads not linked with a school.

The push for a cheerleading competition came from junior fair board member Krysteena Brown, who was an Otsego High School cheerleader, and Ms. Harter, a senior fair board member and a substitute teacher at Otsego, where her daughter is in cheerleading.

Next year, Ms. Harter said, she hopes all the Wood County schools send squads to the fair competition. But that might be a hard sell. The first week of August is right before many school squads start practice.

The rest of the fair's grandstand lineup is traditional. The biggest event, which the fair board hopes will draw 4,000 people, is expected to be Sunday night's Diamond Rio and Andy Griggs country music concert.

The Diamond Rio band is known for "Beautiful Mess," "The Box," and "I Believe." Andy Griggs is known for "How Cool is That" and "Tonight I Wanna Be Your Man."

The fair has a night of live bull riding Saturday for the first time in recent years.

Board members expect 16 to 20 mechanical rides, 49 food stands, and 96 commercial booths, which is up by 15 to 20 from last year. And the whole grounds should look brighter than usual.

Ms. Spoerl said 80 to 100 gallons of white paint have been applied to the fair buildings this year.

Contact Jane Schmucker at: jschmucker@theblade.com or 419-724-6102.



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