GREENVILLE — Daryl Riffle, fair manager of the Great Darke County Fair, was the featured guest at the monthly ag breakfast held at the Brethren Retirement Community Thursday morning.
Riffle said this year will be his 11th fair, adding that this will be the 39th year for midway attractions and rides to be presented by the Kissel Brothers and Hot Shot the Clown will be on hand for his eighth year at the fair.
Other popular attractions such as harness racing, tractor pulls and the cheerleading competition also are on the schedule, along with musical entertainment and livestock shows.
He noted new attractions this year will include Granpa Cratchet, a puppeteering act, which will have a set location on the fairgrounds in addition to a roving unit that will be performing throughout the midway. Another new feature will be Wambold’s Amazing Animals, featuring exotic animals and performing dogs.
Also, among the nearly 400 vendors on the grounds will be a new food vendor, Schnitzels and Giggles, featuring Bavarian food such as bratwurst and German-style potato pancakes served by staff wearing lederhosen and dirndls.
Riffle said this year’s harness racing events will feature a race of the eight highest ranked harness racing teams in the country competing for a $40,000 purse, that will be held the final Friday night of the fair. Also on that night, century farms — farms that have been in operation for more than 100 years — will be honored, and Gov. John Kasich is scheduled to be in attendance.
Riffle mentioned the fact that poultry is banned from Ohio fairs this year, and he said Darke County was in a better position than many to respond to the edict, since the fair is so late in the season.
“We had more time to react and think,” he said, adding that it also gave organizers the opportunity to see what was being done at other fair and come up with ideas for planning poultry shows without live exhibits.
Poultry exhibits will include photos of the animals and other presentations, and the sale will still be taking place, just without live animals on the grounds.
Riffle said fair attendance was down by about 25,000 last year, but he said he wasn’t terribly concerned about it, as record-breaking attendance year after year meant the wave eventually had to crest.
“We aren’t really planning to do anything different,” he said. “I think the weather had a lot to do with it,” adding that often rain predicted during last year’s fair failed to materialize. He said the fair board has boosted its social media presence and will be reaching out to the public all during the fair.
In other reports, Commissioner Diane Delaplane said the county is still working with city, villages and townships on the emergency responders’ communications systems. She said the project is expected to cost somewhere in the $1-2 million range.
Manure issues are in the forefront of the Department of Natural Resources concerns. The upcoming Manure Science Review Aug. 12 will address issues of over-fertilizing and runoff problems, as well as dealing with spillage.
OSU Extension activities include Darke County hosting the Noble County Cattlemen’s beef study group this week, the upcoming Regional Dairy Meeting in Mercer County, the Manure Science Review, a livestock mortality composting meeting and an upcoming meeting with the president of Ohio State University regarding water quality issues.