Visitors at this week's 163rd annual Union County Fair will be able to take in some harness racing, enjoy fresh-squeezed lemonade and participate in numerous games and events aimed at providing fun for all ages and interests.

Visitors at this week's 163rd annual Union County Fair will be able to take in some harness racing, enjoy fresh-squeezed lemonade and participate in numerous games and events aimed at providing fun for all ages and interests.

This year's fair runs from July 26 to Aug. 2, with a few new additions, according to fair marketing director Sue Alderman.

"We may not have the big name country-western stars, but we try to do a lot of other different things that people can participate in," Alderman said.

While the fairgrounds officially open today (July 26) with harness racing and junior fair livestock weigh-ins, events for the public will kick off tomorrow with numerous junior fair skill-a-thon competitions and the fair parade.

"Monday is really the kick-off to the fair, because it's the first evening for the rides to be open, and we have the grand parade," Alderman said. "Also, if someone participates in the parade, they get into the fair for free that day."

Alderman said those who show up at the county building parking lot on Sixth Street at 4:30 p.m. on Monday may participate in the parade, which will run through downtown Marysville.

A fireworks and laser light show display will also open the Union County fair on Monday evening.

"The entire fair shuts down so that the fireworks can go on," Alderman said. "The laser lights are displayed on a big screen, so you really have to be in the fairgrounds near the grandstand to enjoy them."

The fireworks and laser show takes place at dusk.

This year's fair will also see new additions to the bull riding show and demolition derby events. The bull riding grandstand show at 7 p.m. Thursday will include girls' barrel racing, and alongside the stripped-down demo cars on Saturday night will be a flight of lawn mowers, vying to destroy each other.

"There has been barrel racing in the 4-H program, but in addition to the bull riding this year ladies barrel racing for any age has been added," Alderman said. "I think that will be a good off-set for the crowd while they're preparing for the next bull ride."

The Union County idol contest has also been expanded this year. While for the last two years the contest has been for those ages 13-19, Alderman said due to a strong community reception the contest will this year have a division for those 20-25. Those wishing to participate in the contest must live in Union County and may not have performed professionally. They are required to furnish two songs (in karaoke format) on a CD, and register by 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 29. The music may be of any genre.

The idol contest takes place at 5 p.m. Aug. 2.

Other events in which fairgoers can participate include a quilt show (must register by 4 p.m. Tuesday at the extension office), a tractor rodeo for teenagers and adults, an animal costume contest open to both 4-H members and non-members, the tallest weed and cornstalk contest, the cutest baby contest, kids' tractor pulls and games, as well as numerous other contests and games.

The fair runs from July 26 to Aug. 2 at the Ohio Union County Fairgrounds, North Main Street. More information can be found at www.ohiounioncountyfair.org.