Jefferson County Fair Opening Ceremony Is Monday
SMITHFIELD — The Jefferson County Fair returns this week with a variety of amusement rides, food and entertainment, including a rodeo, demolition derby, trained dog show and talent competition involving local youth.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 5 p.m. Monday at the Rosza Pavilion on the fairgrounds at Friendship Park.
In addition to Jefferson County Commissioners, who will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony, family members of the late Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla are expected to be on hand.
Debbie Hukill, treasurer for the fair board, said they also will represent Abdalla, as posthumous marshal, in the fair’s annual parade, which will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 20.
Angie Allison, 4-H educator for the Ohio State University Extension Service, said Abdalla was a regular presence at the fair, not only maintaining an office on the fairgrounds throughout the week but also taking an interest in the various youth activities held there.
She and Hukill noted Abdalla, who died Feb. 21 at the age of 77, often purchased livestock on the fair’s auction block, then donated it to local food pantries.
“His presence was reassuring and comforting to children here. He just loved the fair and really had a good time here. We’re going to miss him a lot,” said Hukill.
Fair organizers also are lamenting the March 7 death of Loretta Finney, a longtime fair board member who organized the seventh and eighth arts and crafts department contests.
The opening ceremonies will be followed by the crowning of the junior fair king, queen, prince and princess.
Hukill said about 30 youth are involved in a competition for the four titles, which includes participants filling out a two- page application with several essay questions and formal interview before a panel of judges.
The winners are selected for their various activities and achievements, leadership qualities, appearance, poise and presentation, she noted.
Monday will include the Junior Fair Star Search Talent Show, showcasing a variety of talents at 6 p.m. Youth, ages 5-19, from any Ohio county, can register for the competition between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Midway.
Admission to the fair is $10 for everyone and includes rides. Season passes are available for $30 and include six tickets, which may be used on six days or for up to six admissions on fewer days.
They can be purchased at the following businesses: Ag Pro in Bloomingdale, Jefferson Landmark in Bloomingdale, Cadiz and Dillonvale; McConnell’s Meat Market and Kenco in Richmond, Pytash Tractor in Toronto, Thompson’s in Dillonvale, Smithfield Hardware and Super C in Smithfield and M&M Hardware in Steubenville.
They will be available at the fair board’s office at the park from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. through this weekend.
There’s no cost for admission on the first evening. Hukill said the fair’s amusement rides won’t be open then because they will be undergoing an inspection by an engineer employed by the state.
Lisko Amusements of Lowellville, Ohio, a company new to the fair, will be bringing about 15 rides as well as a funhouse and a bungee jump attraction. The rides are slated to open at noon each day beginning Tuesday.
Hukill said Team Zoom, a trained dog act popular with past fairgoers, will return on Tuesday and appear each day at times to be announced. Also slated to appear daily are Mr. Puppet, with three shows slated for each afternoon in front of the Commercial Building; and Bob Bohm’s Family Entertainment, an audience participation show with a game show format that will be presented three times a day at times to be announced.
Other entertainment will include a cheering competition featuring cheerleaders from area schools, at 6 p.m. Tuesday; the Ron Retzer Trio from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday; the Rafter M Rodeo at 7 p.m. Wednesday; the music of Reflections from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday; a motocross race at 7 p.m. Thursday (with registration at 6 p.m.); and the Brother Randall Bluegrass Band from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.
The entertainment lineup continues with the Great Square Dance at 9 p.m. Friday; truck and tractor pulls at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Aug. 20; a mud bog at noon Aug. 20; children’s pedal tractor pull at 1 p.m. Aug. 20 (with registration at 1 p.m.); a race with children’s battery-powered vehicles at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 20 (with registration at 2 p.m.); casual cruise-in, with no judging or trophies, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 20; the music of Tammy Jo and Iron Horse from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 20; karaoke at 7 p.m. Aug. 20; and a home talent demolition derby at 3 p.m. Aug. 21 (with registration and inspection at 11 a.m.).
There also will be a rock climbing wall, a laser tag game, antique tractor and machinery display as well as many displays and competitions involving animals raised by local members of 4-H and Future Farmers of America and other youth.
Allison said the events involve about 370 members of 25 4-H clubs, not counting about 90 Cloverbud members, who are 5 to 8 years old and will participate in their own program from noon to 3 p.m. on Monday.
With guidance from about 100 adult volunteers, the youth engage in projects involving cooking, sewing, art and other skills that are judged in July, with winners displayed at the fair.
Many also have raised an assortment of livestock, from pygmy goats to large steer, that also are the focus of competitions and shows held through the week.
You can find the fair’s complete schedule at https://jeffersoncountyfairofficial.com/daily-happenings/
In its 151st year, the fair was scaled back during the last two years because of the pandemic.
“We have been moving slowly back to normal and are back to a full fair this year,” said Allison.
The theme for this year’s event is “Bright Lights, Country Nights:The Best of Both Worlds.”
Hukill said it reflects an ongoing effort to bring together the rural and urban communities of Jefferson County by offering a wide variety of things to see and do.
Reflecting on this year’s full schedule, she said, “There should be something for everybody.”