A new general manager, upgrades and a record-setting race marked the 2016 edition of the Delaware County Fair.
In March, voters approved a 3-percent, 5-year hotel bed tax for the county. The tax, collected the 23rd of each month, goes toward improvements at the aging fairgrounds.
New general manager Sandy Kuhn said $140,000 had been spent on improvements to the fairgrounds over the summer, including water lines, five fire hydrants, restroom upgrades at the grandstand, panic doors at the merchant’s building and a new fiber-optic phone system.
“I never knew phones could cost so much,” Kuhn said.
Fair board member Chip Thomson said that when completed, the improvements should keep the fairgrounds in good operating condition for another 50 years.
Since Delaware is one of the later county fairs in the state, bad weather and Ohio State football can impact the gate. Not surprisingly, it rained on opening day, but some hardy souls still enjoyed listening to bubblegum band The Ohio Express. However, one thing that did help traffic was that road improvements to Route 23 at Pennsylvania were completed by the time the fair opened.
A quarantine on poultry in 2015 had been lifted, so all the animals typically shown at the fair were seen on the grounds this year. Plenty of 4-H members had successful summers raising their animals, with the payoff from the always exciting sale of champions.
Many of the rides and vendors usually on hand were present as well. Not present after being on the grounds the past two years was the CBS Sports Network, which had televised the third leg of harness racing’s triple crown.
The 71st running of the Little Brown Jug was set in record time, but not without controversy.
The heavily-favored Betting Line won the $577,000 Jug on the half-mile track in straight heats, but a protest was filed the morning of the harness races by a competitor against Betting Line. The complaint concerned text messages on a lost cell phone that had been found.
The horse’s trainer said Betting Line received laser treatments for pain relief and yogurt for the stomach the two days before the race, but not on race day.
The Ohio State Racing Commission ruled several weeks later that Betting Line did not violate any rules. The horse had been tested following both races, and was cleared both times.
The report cited two doctors in support of “our opinion that yogurt is not a classified substance and can be fed on race day.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.