Fair-goers explore the midway on opening day, just a week after flooding struck the Findlay area. A cleanup effort beginning last Thursday restored sparkle to the fair buildings. <br> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/weblink_icon.gif> VIEW: <a href=" http://www.hancockfairgrounds.org/" target="_blank "><b>Hancock County Fair</b></a> Web site
FINDLAY - A week after up to 12 feet of floodwater swamped the Hancock County Fairgrounds, the annual homage to local agriculture and other pursuits opened yesterday as scheduled in clean buildings bathed by sunshine.
About 95 percent of the more than 80-acre fairgrounds was under water last week after Findlay was hit by heavy rain and a ditch running through the complex overflowed its banks.
Three local volunteer fire departments, with an eye toward the county fair's opening yesterday, started cleanup efforts last Thursday, pumping out water and sanitizing buildings, said Dave Thomas, operations and facility manager for the fairgrounds.
Junior fair queen contestant Katie Cole is introduced by Dave Thomas, the fair's operations and facility manager.
"We actually only had four structures that didn't have water in them," he said. "Some of the buildings were up to the eaves."
Cleanup continued Friday through Sunday, and vendors and campers were able to start moving in Monday, Mr. Thomas said.
Volunteer turnout was astonishing, including at least 25 young adults from Wyandot County who helped on Saturday. The fairgrounds probably are as clean as they ever have been, he added.
Tammy LaLonde and daughter Chrissy, 9, try for a prize at one of the midway games.
While Hancock County children will be able to show off their livestock and other projects, adults who need a break from flooding woes will be able to get one, Mr. Thomas said.
The fair runs through Labor Day.
"It was worth the effort," Mr. Thomas said. "It's off to a good start."