Thalia Salas, 15, of Holland, led her three month-old Holstein calf back into the barn after washing it.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
Robby Conboy didn’t need much time to think of his favorite part of the Lucas County Fair.
“I would have to say all of the rides,” said the 11-year-old, who was taking reprieve from thrill-seeking on Thursday to snap photos of baby farm animals on a cell phone that belonged to his mother, Liz.
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The Conboys, of Toledo, were at the county fairgrounds in Maumee for the second day in a row, taking advantage of free admission from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to see the animals they missed Wednesday.
“A lot of kids in the city might not have experience with farm life and agriculture, so it’s good to get them exposed,” Ms. Conboy said.
Educating children is one of the fair’s primary goals, fair board director Dennis Lange said. The 155th annual fair, which opened Tuesday, has a variety of appeal, from bands to arts and crafts to a new mud bogging competition that will take place Sunday.
And there is typical fair food such as funnel cakes and corn dogs.
“The whole fair concept is, ‘Let’s come and get educated, but we’re going to have some fun doing it, too,’ ” Mr. Lange said.
Mr. Lange, who has been on the board 15 years, said there are only two staff members paid an annual salary — an office manager and groundskeeper — and about 300 volunteers. There is also some additional staff paid to work the week of the fair.
Thursday marked the first rain-free day of the week. Although Mr. Lange said the rain Tuesday and Wednesday may have persuaded some people not to come, the pavement that covers much of the ground means patrons don’t have to worry about treading through mud. Free admission was available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, in addition to Thursday.
But as entertainment options such as the Toledo Zoo and watching the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field have increased in Toledo, the fair’s attendance has decreased from 120,000 patrons decades ago to about 32,500 last year.
Mr. Lange said it’s important to have families return to the fair and utilize fair activities that promote imagination and innovative thinking in youth. He thinks progress is being made in getting children interested in scouting and home-based activities like gardening and sewing.
“We’ve got to get back to the volunteerism segment of our society, and that everybody needs to help everybody else out and to make these things happen,” he said. “How you’re going to do that is by getting the kids back into the 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, and these different activities that are going on at different associations so that they find out what this is all about.”
The Lucas County Fair runs through Sunday. Admission is $6 at the gate.
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