Free of COVID-19 mandates, Clark County Fair opens Friday

Katelin McKee, right, and her sister, Lily, decorate the pins for their cows Wednesday as they prepare for the opening of the Clark County Fair on Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Katelin McKee, right, and her sister, Lily, decorate the pins for their cows Wednesday as they prepare for the opening of the Clark County Fair on Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Event returns to pre-pandemic eight-day format, includes sea lions.

The annual Clark County Fair opens Friday as a full-fledged fair after being limited last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fairgoers can look forward to new and old attractions, food vendors, rides and live entertainment.

With extra time to prepare after putting on a junior fair only last year that was limited to 4-H and FFA exhibits, Clark County Fairgrounds Executive Director Dean Blair said the 2021 fair will offer the full experience.

The event is back to eight days up from the five for the 2020 fair.

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The fair runs through July 30 and gates open each day at 8 a.m. with general admission $6, which includes parking and admission into all concerts. Admission is free for children 5 and under and rides require tickets, or a wristband purchased separately.

Fairgoers will be urged to exercise COVID-19 protocols such as hand washing and social distancing when possible, Blair said.

“We will leave our signs up on the gates which recommend that you wear a mask, but you certainly don’t have to. Try to maintain six feet if you can, wash your hands frequently. We will strongly urge people to do those commons sense things but there will not be any rules or mandates,” Blair said.

There will also be sanitizing stations throughout the park and fair rides will be sanitized more frequently, according to Blair.

Sea lions will be visiting the Clark County Fair for the first time, putting on a show up to three times a day.

“Personally, I’m extremely excited,” Blair said. “I’ve waited four years [for the sea lions]. We’ve been on a waiting list to have them come. The sea lions are such a big deal. You usually don’t get to see the sea lions unless you go to the Ohio State Fair.”

Performers from the Cincinnati Circus will perform mini shows three times a day.

Some of the new food vendors include Lisa’s pretzels, which offers hand-dipped mini twist pretzels in more than 30 flavors; Philly Pretzel Factory, a Philly-style pretzel bakery from Centerville; Thank God It’s Fryday, a fry and fried chicken food truck; and Chick-fil-A.

A big band will be playing every night of the fair including “Hotel California,” an 80s tribute band, and country performers and Clark County natives Kate Hasting and Wyatt McCubbin.

“In the past at a county fair, typically you would see the same thing each day,” Blair said. “That is just not going to be the case.”

Makenna Young decorates the Young at Heart 4-H Club's area in one of the barns Wednesday in preparation for the Clark County Fair's start on Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Makenna Young decorates the Young at Heart 4-H Club's area in one of the barns Wednesday in preparation for the Clark County Fair's start on Friday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

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Guests looking to engage the younger crowd should attend the fair on Kids’ Day, July 28. All children 14 and under get free admission and free kids’ games will be available starting at 1 p.m.

Two boys enjoy a hot funnel cake on the midway at a previous Clark County Fair Friday. Bill Lackey/Staff
Two boys enjoy a hot funnel cake on the midway at a previous Clark County Fair Friday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Attendees will also be the first to experience the finished product of over $50,000 in renovations. The Fair Board used money from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to install a concrete floor in the goat barn and improve campground and barn roads.

On top of these renovations, the fairgrounds updated and modernized six of its restrooms with new floors, touchless faucets, toilets and towel dispensers. These restrooms are in the three-building complex that houses the Arts and Crafts, Annex and Mercantile buildings.

Fairgoers can also expect to see some returning events in new locations.

The banquet center has turned into retail store space and the 13 programs previously in the Champion Center will be relocated to the Arts and Crafts building. The opening ceremonies, the queen contests and commission meetings are just a few of the relocated programs.

The businesses and Heritage Museum display previously located in the Arts and Crafts building will move to the Mercantile Building.

All event dates and times can be found at the Clark County Fair’s website at clarkcoag.com.

How to go

Clark County Fair opens to the public Friday and runs through July 30. Gates open at 8 a.m. Midway opens at noon. Admission is $6, which includes parking and entry into all concerts. Admission is free for children 5 and under. Rides require tickets, or a wristband purchased separately.