Carnival rides, a smorgasbord of food options, animal showings, and even a clown able to rip phone books in half and juggle bowling balls kicked off the Lucas County Fair yesterday.
Organizers estimated a large turnout yesterday, when admission was free, and hoped to see about 50,000 visitors before the fair ends Sunday.
"Attendance is very good today," Dennis Lange, a fair board member, said as he tried to navigate a golf cart down a path packed with fair-goers. "This is perfect fair weather."
The National Weather Service predicts partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid to upper 80s through Sunday.
Throngs of visitors apparently agreed with Mr. Lange as they visited brightly painted concession stands offering hot dogs, hamburgers, and cotton candy, exhibits of everything from crafts to baby animals, and rides, including a Ferris wheel and small roller coaster.
Residents looking for quirkier entertainment also got their fill from Buffo: The World's Strongest Clown, who performed four times yesterday and will be there throughout the week.
"I do a lot of crazy stuff," said the clown, whose real name is Tommy Toman. His acts include the aforementioned phone book ripping, in addition to balancing children and chairs, walking on broken glass, and magic tricks.
The mohawk-wearing former special-education teacher spent much of the early afternoon driving around the fair in his clown car wooing potential spectators. By his 3 p.m. show, he'd amassed a crowd of dozens of children and their parents.
New at the fair this year is the Flying Star Rodeo, planned for 7 p.m. tomorrow, and a strongman competition planned for noon Saturday.
The interior of the livestock barn was renovated recently, and there are more entries for this year's livestock showings.
Brianna Brinkley, 12, said she liked the improvements, which included a new floor designed to make the barn cooler.
Like many of the more than 100 young entrants, she entered animals in three categories: cattle, pigs, and lambs. "I just want to try different things," said the Whitehouse resident, adding that she spends several hours a day at her uncle's farm tending the animals.
"The kids who do care, they put a lot of time into it," said Bryan Crapo, who judged poultry competitions yesterday, adding that preparing for some of the events is "like a science."
Fourteen-year-old Kane Anderson, of Waterville, won his first competition yesterday by showing a chicken.
In that category, Mr. Crapo said he looks for chickens with plenty of well-placed meat on them, since those animals will be used for food.
"It's a food thing," Kane said, adding that his secret was giving the chicken more food than normal, but not too much.
"You have to work with them and get them used to you," said Kia Brady, 15, of preparing her two pigs for the show. She said animal handling requires that the animals be very familiar with people.
She said it's also important to not get too close to the animals, since many, including her pigs, will be sold at the end of the week.
Another attraction, a pony show, featured young men and women riding their animals around a large corral.
"I've come every year for the last eight years," said Sarah Matesz, 16, of Swanton, from atop her horse, a Haflinger named Avalon. "It's challenging, there's a lot to learn."
Lucas County officials making appearances at the fair include the auditor's office and the clerk of courts, each offering assistance to residents.
Auditor Larry Kaczala said appraisers will be on hand to talk to owners of agricultural properties or those properties that fall under the Current Agricultural Use Valuation program. Residents can ask questions about the auditor's appraisals.
Residents from the region also will have the opportunity to fill out an application for a United States passport.
As an officially registered Acceptance Agent for the U.S. Department of State, the Lucas County Clerk of Courts will have staff on site to take residents' photographs and complete all required paperwork. Applicants must have an original birth certificate with the raised seal and another photo identification.
No heat-related incidents had been reported as of mid-afternoon yesterday, said Tim Brainard, a Maumee Fire Department emergency medical technician who volunteered at the fair. He said the only medical booth activity was treating some scrapes and blisters. Extra water is on hand and the medical building is air conditioned, he said.
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