By Louis Wyatt
ALLEN COUNTY — Many popular events will return to this year’s Allen County Fair, as well as expanded offerings, as the county celebrates the annual event’s 30th year as we know it. While the fair has been around for much longer, the anniversary recognizes the year it was first hosted at the fairgrounds off Carroll Road.
The fair runs from Tuesday, July 23, through Sunday, July 28.
“We are bringing back a lot of the things that we feel people have loved — things like the monster trucks and the truck pulls and the demo derby,” Michelle Love, secretary for the Allen County Fair board of directors, said.
This year’s event will also feature expanded kids’ activities, including themed events in the activity tent. Wednesday is Art and Music Night with free make-and-take instruments, dance groups and an interactive community art installation. On Saturday, the Cincinnati Circus will perform a free sideshow with glass walking, a bed of nails, an electric chair, and other oddities and eccentric acts. Other free activities that night will include face painting, caricature drawing and a juggling station. The fair will also feature an expanded Kids’ Zone this year, in addition to a larger animal contact area.
“We increased a lot of the kids’ activities that are going on, but we try really hard to provide family entertainment that reaches all ages — things that appeal to kids and young families, but also middle-aged couples and senior citizens,” Love said. “That’s one reason why we changed the structure of our activity tent a couple years ago. We used to always have music, and we found that in the Fort Wayne area there are so many opportunities in the summer to see bands, so we started having a different theme at our activity tent every night.”
Tethered hot air balloon rides will be offered both Tuesday and Thursday night this year, as opposed to just Tuesday in years past. The hot air balloon fly-out will be Thursday night at 7:30 p.m., followed by a hot air balloon glow at 9:30 p.m., weather permitting.
Other special events include:
• Ag Day — speakers throughout the day
• Health and wellness fair (3-7 p.m.) — Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography,
Ronald McDonald Youth Health Clinic, free screenings, wellness information, speakers and more
• Free kids monster truck rides (6-10 p.m.)
• Little Miss Allen County coronation (6 p.m.)
• 4-H and adult fashion review (7 p.m.)
• Final year members, and 4-H top and honor achiever awards (8 p.m.)
• Pedal car races (6 p.m.)
• Pot belly pig races (8-9 p.m.)
• Redneck relays and rickshaw races (8 p.m.)
• Outhouse races (1 p.m.)
• Kids Day (9 a.m.-4 p.m.) — balloon art, crafts, animal shows, cookie stacking, pizza eating and more
• Science Central Wild Weather Family Fun Test (6:30-8:30 p.m.) — hands-on experiments for all ages
• Free ice cream social (7 p.m.)
• Classic car cruise-in (4-10 p.m.)
• Biff and the Cruisers (5-10 p.m.) — free rock and roll music
• 4×4 truck pull (7 p.m.)
• Mermaid princess meet and greet (2-3 p.m.)
• Watermelon eating contest (6:30 p.m.)
• Car demolition derby (7:30 p.m.)
• Homemade and homegrown market (11 a.m.-4 p.m.)
• Tangled princess meet and greet (noon-1 p.m.)
• 4-H Showman of Showmen (noon)
• 4-H awards ceremony (5 p.m.)
“The fair is more than just for 4-H,” Love said. “We love that it’s the pinnacle of 4-H and people can come see the animals and interact, but we provide a lot more than just that. It’s a very diverse set of experiences — you can go to the carnival and ride rides, you can participate in a watermelon eating contest, and then you can go down to the peddle car races or see the llamas and the pigs.”
There will also be three fundraiser dinners at the Home and Family Arts building. The Allen County Extension Homemakers will host a pork dinner Wednesday, followed by Agape Church of the Brethren’s chicken dinner Thursday night and a Huntertown Lions Club fish fry on Friday. All three dinners will begin at 5 p.m.
Parking at the fairgrounds is free, and admission is free until noon each weekday and free throughout the day for children 5 and younger. The cost of admission is $7 Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and $5 all other days. Sunday is Fairs Care and Military Day. Anyone donating a non-perishable food item or anyone with a veteran or active military ID will receive $2 off admission.
For more information about fair events, including times and locations, visit allencountyfairgroundsin.com.