Dylan Thorp, 7, of Oak Harbor, reaches into a pen to pet one of the goats in a livestock shelter.
OAK HARBOR, Ohio - Ottawa County Fair leaders are boasting more of just about everything in their weeklong show that opens today.
They have more mechanical rides - 14, up from 11 last year - and they come from an amusement company that is new to the fair but well-known in the area.
They have more, and they hope better, entertainment with an $80,000 budget for paid entertainers this year, which is $20,000 more than they spent last year.
They have more livestock, including so many more horses that they rented an extra tent to house them.
They have more sports teams for their soccer and volleyball tournaments, which are rare at area county fairs. Fifty soccer teams of three players each are expected to compete in this year's tournament, which is 20 more teams than last year. Volleyball is drawing 12 teams, up from eight last year.
One thing the fair board doesn't want more of, however, is rain and steamy, hot weather. Last year, rain was blamed for reducing attendance to about 33,000, fair treasurer Jon Overmyer said.
He's hoping for 40,000 people this year, he said, but the National Weather Service forecast isn't pre-dicting the fairest of weather. Today, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s, but with the humidity, it's likely to feel like 103.
Danielle Dupler, 14, of Elmore, holds her horse Copper as Wildfire sneaks a kiss. The fair has many more horses competing this year.
Then there's a chance of showers and thunderstorms tomorrow through Thursday. Those days still carry forecasts of temperatures in the 90s that will feel like 100 degrees - "Nothing really cool at all," said Martin Thompson, a weather service technician.
Wednesday night, when country music star Craig Morgan performs, will be a key time for good weather for the fair. He's known for "That's What I Love About Sunday" and "Redneck Yacht Club."
Friday night, Northcoast Rockers, a local band that's new to the fair, will perform two free shows. Magicians from Disappearing Inc. will appear at the fair for the first time, strolling the midway Thursday afternoon and giving free shows Friday and Saturday afternoons. "You've got to try to entertain as much as possible," Mr. Overmyer said.
In the junior fair, a Sunday rifle and archery demonstration is new and unusual for county fairs. Many relegate such youth projects to a poster display.
Ottawa County has about 700 members of 4-H and Clover Buds and about 200 FFA members who will have exhibits at the fair. Among them are four youths who won top awards at last year's Ohio State Fair in a variety of contests and are back at this week's county fair with more projects:
"She has an unbelievable mind," junior fair coordinator Debi Heiks said.
Contact Jane Schmucker at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-337-7780.