Johnstown Independent

More than 200,000 expected to attend 156th Hartford Fair

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The Hartford Fair is known as the "Biggest Little Fair in the World."

In its 156-year history, it also has been identified as a family reunion.

More than 200,000 people are expected to pass through the gates in the village of Hartford -- also known as Croton -- Aug. 3-9.

"It's a time when you see everybody once a year and sit down and have a cup of coffee," fair manager Larry Hughes said. "We are one of the oldest fairs around, and we always get a lot of help from the community. Probably not a week goes by without someone asking, 'What do you need, or what can I do?' "

The event has been a part of Hughes' life since 1950. He's missed only two fairs since then, he said.

What's different about the Hartford Fair is that it includes directors from Licking County and neighboring Delaware and Knox counties, he said. As many as 500 4-H exhibitors from the three counties will reside in dorms on the fairgrounds during the eight-day run.

Although the fair continues to honor traditions, it also has grown into an entertainment venue that features country music acts, motocross racing, horse and tractor pulls, amusement rides and plenty of food.

"We have more than 70 concession trailers scattered around the fairgrounds, and there are four restaurants where you can sit down and eat," Hughes said.

The musical acts go on stage beginning at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4, with Drew Baldridge and Natalie Stovall & The Drive opening for Cole Swindell.

More than 100 pickup trucks will compete in a pulling event at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug 3. The fair will close with a championship horse-pulling contest at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.

Although this year's fair won't feature school bus races, the demolition derby will include a figure-eight pickup race at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Admission is $6 for adults, with children ages 7 and younger admitted for free. Senior citizens may enter the grounds for $3 Monday, Aug. 4. Amusement-ride wristbands are $8 from noon to 5 p.m. and $9 from 6 to 11 p.m.

Getting to and from the fair has been made easier.

Traffic has been eased by a new access road that opened last year to and from Bennington Chapel Road. In 2012, the fair board purchased nearly 12 acres adjacent to the fairgrounds.

At times, visitors would wait more than two hours to exit. The new access road has cut that time to 30 minutes, Hughes said.

Other improvements include five permanent light towers and a dozen portable light towers to ensure a safer environment.

It typically takes three weeks to prepare the fairgrounds for the fair's first day, Hughes said.

"We just hope the weather cooperates," Hughes said.

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