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Published: Sunday, 7/23/2006

Lucas County Fair trims admission, adds 2 events

BY LAREN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Morgan Mohr, 11, of Sylvania arranges her giraffe collection with help of her mom, Kathleen, for the Youth Collections display. 
Morgan Mohr, 11, of Sylvania arranges her giraffe collection with help of her mom, Kathleen, for the Youth Collections display.
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The Lucas County Fair is a lot more urban than country these days, but Monclova Township resident Vicky Ryan - who has been involved with the fair and 4-H for more than three decades - said it's supposed to be.

"We're a city fair. We're right smack dab in Lucas County," she said of the fairgrounds along the east side of Key Street in Maumee. "We do as well as anybody could do with a metropolitan fair."

In an effort to attract more city and country folks to the 2006 fair, which runs from Tuesday through July 30, fair board member Dennis Lange said the admission price has been lowered to $6 - $2 less than last year - and the price includes mechanical rides.

With gasoline prices near $3 a gallon, Mr. Lange said he hopes the admission and rides for one lower price will "inspire more people to come."

The 148th annual fair technically begins tomorrow with the traditional parade beginning at 7 p.m. at Maumee High School. Marchers will follow Craig Street to 7th Street and then along Key Street to the main gate of the fairgrounds next to the former Ned Skeldon Stadium.

After the parade, the fair king and queen will be crowned.

But the exhibits, rides, and the fair itself are not officially open until Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Board members this year lined up two new events in hopes of attracting a total of 50,000 fair-goers over the six-day event.

Don Speck, 79, of Maumee places a card to identify his banks for an antiques exhibit at the upcoming Lucas County Fair. Don Speck, 79, of Maumee places a card to identify his banks for an antiques exhibit at the upcoming Lucas County Fair.
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The Flying Star Rodeo, a fully sanctioned mid-state rodeo expected to draw competitors from throughout the Midwest, will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday. The rodeo includes calf roping, barrel racing, and bull riding and will take place in the new pony arena near the merchants building.

At noon Saturday in the same arena, a "strongman" competition will be held.

"That's a whole new genre of people we'll be having in here, for the first time, most likely," Mr. Lange said.

The rock band Cheap Trick is this year's showcase band and Friday night entertainment, with Josh Boyd and the VIP Band as the opening act. Mr. Lange expects 6,000 people to attend the 9 p.m. concert. Tickets are $10 for the grandstand and $20 for ground seats.

"When we go back through the years, big gate nights were rock and roll," he said, explaining the fair board's choice of bands.

Despite the event being billed as an urban fair, there was a slight increase this year in the number of livestock entries.

Mr. Lange said the increase couldn't have come at a better time, as fair board members recently finished more than $25,000 worth of interior renovations at the livestock barn.

Wooden pens for lambs were replaced with steel pens and cement was poured in the front of the barn where chickens, rabbits, and other small animals are housed throughout the week.

Fair board members hope the new floor will cool the air in the barn and help cool the animals as well if temperatures reach into the 90s during the week.

Nick Barney, who is Mrs. Ryan's grandson, has a market steer and two hogs that will be housed in the recently renovated livestock barn. He said the improvements to the barn made a tremendous difference.

The Monclova Township 16-year-old, who helped with the renovations, said in addition to the barn being cooler, it is more suitable for people walking through, especially those with strollers or wheelchairs.

"With anything, the newer and nicer it looks, the more appealing it is to the public," he said.

Mr. Lange agreed: "Like the old adage, we build it, they'll come."

Mrs. Ryan said she has heard several people say they don't go to the fair because "it's not country anymore."

Although the number of animals at the Lucas County Fair might not be as high as surrounding county fairs, she said it is a wonderful opportunity for local residents to gain an understanding of farming and raising livestock.

"Just as they go to an art museum for the cultural aspects of art, people should come to the fair for the cultural aspects of farming," Mrs. Ryan said.

Contact Laren Weber at: lweber@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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