There are plenty of differences of opinion between U.S. and Canadian residents, be it which is the more popular sport (football or hockey), the more celebrated recreational game (corn hole or washer board) or the better tasting beer (Budweiser or Molson).
But during Little Brown Jug week, a horde of Canadian visitors descend on the Delaware County Fairgrounds to take their annual vacation, watch harness racing and visit with their American friends.
“We’ve been coming for 14 or 15 years,” said Melinda Hardy. She and her husband, Ross, own Ross Hardy Stable in Melbourne, Ontario, where they train standardbreds.
The Hardys, along with the Frasers and the Whitlocks, enjoy coming to Delaware each September, making the 4 and 1/2-hour drive.
“The people are great. We stay from Monday through Friday,” Melinda said.
Corinne Whitlock said they’ve made a lot of new friends in Ohio even though “there are a lot of Canadians who come down every year.”
The well-kept fairgrounds and track are appealing.
“It’s an awesome track. We have a good 1/2-mile track at home; here they go a lot faster,” Melinda said.
One friend the three couples have met is Sam Hart from Delaware. It’s a good thing since he has the adjoining camper.
“The people are great. I love it,” Hart said. “We go up and watch a few races, don’t bet a whole lot. Then we come back and sit around and play euchre.”
He pointed out even the card game has slight variations from one nation to the other. “We play by Canadian rules,” Hart said with a laugh.
Hart, his wife, Mindy, and son, Brandon, are part of the Buckeye Valley contingent at the fair. Mindy worked the school’s large concession area and Brandon took part in the marching band with his bass drum.
The Harts have become good friends with their camping neighbors.
“We have made new friends and business acquaintances,” Ross said. “This is a good fair, the motorsports, the bands. There is lots to do and see.”
Glenn Fraser looks forward to the annual visit.
“They (the Harts) have welcomed us like family,” he said.
Despite the bond and fellowship, there are some subtle cultural differences.
“You play corn hole and we play a game called washer board,” Melinda noted.
There also is a daily debate over whether outdoor cooking is called barbecue as the Canadians refer to it or grilling as the locals are fond of saying.
To help foster the peace, the Canadians brought a few flags to share with their American friends.
Brenda Fraser likes the atmosphere all week, particularly on Thursday.
“It’s so nice to see 50,000 people around a 1/2-mile track,” she said.
This year the weather has cooperated wonderfully, but that’s not always been the case.
“Some years we have had winter coats on or it’s been wet. We have seen a bit of everything weather-wise,” Glenn said.
While the Little Brown Jug is the main attraction, visiting with friends from across the border remains high on the agenda.
“It’s been a neat friendship,” Hart said. “It’s a great big party and every once in a while a horse race breaks out.”