99th Holmes County Fair ready to open the gates Aug. 8

99th Holmes County Fair ready to open the gates Aug. 8

Holmes County Fair officials can claim some bragging rights when they open the gates for the 99th edition of the fair on Monday, Aug. 8 at Harvest Ridge in Millersburg.

This year’s event boasts the convenience of online ticket buying, an expanded lineup of amusement rides, a record number of animal projects and the unveiling of a high-powered projector in the event center.

“We’re already off to a big start with electronic presale tickets,” said Kerry Taylor, fair board president. “It’s been very successful so far.”

The board is partnering with HomeTown Ticketing to provide fair-goers the convenience of purchasing general admission and grandstand tickets and reserved parking passes with credit and debit cards at www.harvestridgeohio.com/holmes-county-fair.

General admission tickets also will be available at the gate for $6, and cash will be accepted.

Taylor said the system probably won’t be without some glitches at first, but in the long run, it will help the board streamline the ticketing process for all Harvest Ridge events.

Kissel Amusement Co., celebrating its 20th anniversary, will set up what the fair is billing as the most exciting ride lineup yet, with the addition of new rides. This year, along with longtime favorites, Kissel will offer Ali Baba, a full-rotation thrill ride that seats up to 22 people and spins to a height of up to 60 feet while keeping every rider parallel to the ground.

On Kids Day on Aug. 10, rides will open at noon, and reduced ride passes can be purchased until 4 p.m. Daily ride specials will be available.

In the Event Center, fair board members will unveil a new 20-by-12-foot video board and high-powered laser projector.

“It looks absolutely fabulous,” fair board member Roger Boring said. “You can see images on the screen from halfway back in the building.”

A survey of buyers by the fair’s livestock committees found buyers were having trouble seeing the 65-inch television screen, which now has been replaced by the $45,000 video board and projector.

Only the top-10 animals in each species are brought into the sale ring. All other animals are sold by projecting pictures of the exhibitors and their animals on the screen.

The Holmes County Event Center is one of only a few such facilities to have this equipment, Boring said. “I’m excited to get it up and running for the fair.”

It also will be a benefit for other activities at the center such as weddings and conferences.

Boring said the equipment purchase was 100% donated.

“In a county that has helped us out immensely over the years — including moving to the new fairgrounds seven years ago — this shows that there are still people who want to come out and help,” he said.

Thanks to an increased interest in livestock projects, the junior fair will have more animals to sell.

Fair officials are preparing overflow tents to handle a record number of small animal species, said Tim Hershberger, fair board vice president. Entries of goats are up by 30%, and rabbits are up by 40%. The number of turkeys has nearly doubled.

Planning ahead for the increased project numbers, the fair board has formed a committee chaired by fair veterinarian Dr. Eric Shaver to explore the possibility of constructing a small animal building. The next step is fundraising, Taylor said.

Post-pandemic, Taylor said the fair board is grateful to move forward with a full slate of events.

“Last year we had a normal schedule,” he said, “but we still had a great deal of emphasis on adding sanitizing equipment.”

While COVID still remains a concern, he said, “It will be really nice to have a completely normal fair. That’s what we’re looking forward to more than anything.”

The fair’s Friday night schedule also represents a return to normal with the return of the annual Brad Giauque Memorial Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association Pull at 7 p.m. in front of the grandstand. Due to OSTPA conflicts, the tractor pull was moved to a different night the past several years.

“I’m excited to get that back on Friday,” Taylor said. “We believe we will get a wider array of tractors.”

Other entertainment scheduled includes a full rodeo on Monday, KOI drag racing on Tuesday, motocross racing on Wednesday, Holmes County Fair championship bulls and barrels rodeo on Thursday, and the demolition derby on the fair’s final day on Saturday.

Following the demolition derby at 7 p.m., the AC/DC tribute band, Dirty Deeds, will rock the stage at the grandstand.

“The band comes highly recommended,’’ Taylor said. “We’re looking forward to it closing out the fair.”