To be writing about the Delaware County Fair when it’s been over for a couple of weeks, may not make any sense. But I decided to do it anyway. Those of us who go to the fair just to see the races, or my favorite show, Phil Dirt and the Dozers, have no idea what all happens after the last show is history.
First, I think about the grounds-people who have to clean up the mess that’s left behind. For the biggest mess of all, the back stretch of the race track wins a blue ribbon. One year we raced in the last race of the day, and by the time we left the paddock to take our stuff back to the barns, the walkway was covered with discarded beer cans and bottles, losing betting stubs, programs, food wrappers and papers of all kinds. It was so bad that we had to walk on the track. We could do that since there were no more horses to race that late in the day.
I have always noticed that there are a lot of rusted old folding chairs tied to the chain link fences around the track from one year to the next. When the big race day arrives, you may have noticed people carrying in their good chairs and sitting in them after they take down the old chairs that were being used to reserve their place at the fence. I have yet to see anyone putting them back up after the race.
I’m guessing they may bring the old ones back sometime after the fair is over.
When you are over on the barn side, it is rather difficult to see over the heads of all the other people standing around who want to see the races, too. Because of the difficulty of seeing over others’ heads, George brings 2 big buckets and a 10 foot, 2×12 board to the track the night before the big race. During the races, he turns the buckets upside down, about 8 feet apart, and puts the board on top of the buckets.
By standing on that 10 foot board, at least 8 people can easily see the horses on the track. Before he ever thought to bring a board, we just stood on the buckets. I took a picture of them standing on said buckets and entered it in the photography competition. I called it “Watching the Jug on a Bucket” because there is a special race called the Old Oaken Bucket, that is only for trotters, with the Jug being for pacers. I thought my title with the picture was good enough to win a ribbon. Sorry, but no such luck.
And what happens to all those beautiful flower arrangements? This year, by Tuesday, a lot had turned brown and died because of the heat, and/or lack of water. They must have been judged days earlier because it was sad to see those blue, red, or white ribbons hanging on the vases of dead flowers.
Once I went to the fairgrounds the day after the fair was over, and it was sad to see the empty places where so much excitement had taken place just 24 hours earlier. If there was any leftover pie at the Buckeye Valley tent, I’m sure those hard working BV students would have no problem of disposing of it.
I see that I just called the BV building, a tent. Old habits are hard to break. It was a tent back in the day before they got to build the present building. I am also reminded that there used to be at least 3 churches that put up food tents somewhere between the buildings and the track.
On the years it was bitter cold during fair week, the BV food building became the place to go. I have always heard the barn people tell how great their breakfasts are there. It sounds so good, it almost makes me want to get up before daylight and go there for bacon, scrambled eggs and coffee.
Another thing that happens after the fair is over is when the children who have 4-H projects have sold their prize animals and have to go home without them. I understand a lot of tears have been shed by the 4-H kids when that happens.
A very long time ago, I was asked to buy a pig from the 4-H sale at the fair. Never having been in 4-H, I didn’t know what on earth I was going to do with a pig, so I didn’t buy one. Years later, I found out that I need not have worried because you don’t have to take it home. It can be sold right then and there for market price. So, the total amount the person actually pays is the difference between the selling price and the market price. But, if I had bought it, I could close this article by saying that my little piggy went to market.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.