SIDNEY — Horse racing will double its presence at the 2016 Shelby County Fair.
The Shelby County Agricultural Society (fair board) voted during its Aug. 19 meeting to schedule two days of harness racing next year.
“Years and years ago, we used to have four days,” said society Secretary Jerry Schaffner. “Then harness racing in Ohio really faltered. Now, with video lottery terminal money (from casinos) supporting it, it’s come back strong.”
That’s great news for area racing fans, but filling the grandstand with trotters for an additional night had a domino effect on all the other programs that run in that venue during fair week. The fair board approved several measures to revamp the entire grandstand schedule for the 2016 fair.
• Horse racing will be on Tuesday and Wednesday.
• Carload night will be Monday, because cars that enter the fairgrounds that night are parked on the infield of the grandstand. “People can’t go back and forth across the track while racing, mud bogs or the demolition derby is going on. It’s dangerous,” Schaffner said.
• The tractor pull will be Thursday.
• The cheerleading competition is tentatively scheduled for Sunday night, but there have been discussions about eliminating that event.
“We’re not getting enough teams to draw as many people as we’d like,” Schaffner said. “At this point, it’s still viable, but we’re looking at other options.”
• The demolition derby will be Saturday. Schaffner said that should attract more participants. The Sunday schedule this year meant the demo derby fell on the same night as two other demo derbies in the area. Drivers had to choose which event to take part in and that split the participation among all three venues.
• Truck mud bogs will be Saturday at noon.
• The calf scramble will be Friday, which is not a change from the 2015 fair.
In other action, the board voted to move Kids Day back to Thursday.
“We moved it to Saturday this year because Saturday has been bad as far as attendance the last couple of years,” Schaffner said. “We didn’t know if it was because of the weather or something else. Well, this year, there was beautiful weather on Saturday. Kids Day participation was down and the gate was up. So we’re moving Kids Day back to Thursday.”
The board also moved to prohibit all exhibitors’ scales from the fairgrounds next year and to raise the entry fee for the open barrow and gilt show from $8 to $10. The increase will permit a doubling of the prize money to $300 for the grand champion and $150 for the reserve grand champion animals. The board changed the time of the show to 5:30 p.m.
A motion to eliminate the draft horse show died for lack of a second to the motion. It was suggested because all the schedule changes have squeezed it out of its time slot.
“It’s one of those shows that’s not a money-maker, but it’s one of those things you always associate with the fair. I think we can make it work. We just have to figure out how,” Schaffner said.
The issue will be addressed again at the September meeting.
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