Hartford Fair attendees no longer will need to leave concerts and evening events 10 minutes early to avoid traffic tie-ups.

Hartford Fair attendees no longer will need to leave concerts and evening events 10 minutes early to avoid traffic tie-ups.

Fair management will take advantage of 12 acres purchased last November to create new access to Bennington Chapel Road.

"This will make it much, much easier to leave the grounds," said Larry Hughes, fair manager.

Hughes said fair administrators have considered the property for a long time, knowing it would provide excellent access to Bennington Chapel Road, thus alleviating much of the traffic that currently backs up at the fair's main entrance.

Arthur Shimp is the previous property owner.

"He didn't want to sell it at that particular time because he was living on it," Hughes said.

However, he said, Shimp died and his daughter was willing to sell.

Hughes said New Way Excavating will begin clearing trees and brush this weekend and eventually will build a driveway with lights. He said people from preferred parking and camping will have access to the new driveway as well.

Hughes said fair management had been receiving complaints from people who say they were stuck for hours in traffic following a concert or event, and some threatened not to return to the fair. He said the new access would be ready by this season's opening day Aug. 3 and traffic would be much smoother than in previous years.

Hughes said this year's 155th annual fair will run Aug. 3-10 and will include an additional day -- Saturday, Aug. 3, when admission and entertainment will be free to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Junior Fair.

"We're just trying to celebrate the 4-H program," he said.

According to Hartford Fair history, agriculture has been stressed through the years, along with the promotion of 4-H and youth activities.

The Licking County Junior Fair was added to the program in 1938. Since then, most of the fair's growth has been with youth organizations and centered on their activities.

The Hartford Fair has one of the largest Junior Fair programs in Ohio. The 4-H clubs are increasing to include urban as well as farm youth.

In 1948, Licking County had the first 4-H Band, organized by Lenora McLeish. The band is housed on the fairgrounds the entire week of the fair, performing at various events each day.

Hughes said volunteers are needed for the fair and events leading up to it. Anyone wanting to volunteer should call the fair office at 740-893-4881 or send an email to hartfordfair@embarqmail.com.