The Union County Fair celebrated its 165th year with many new attractions at the 50-acre fairgrounds in Marysville.

The Union County Fair celebrated its 165th year with many new attractions at the 50-acre fairgrounds in Marysville.

Organizers kicked off the first "Redneck Mud Run" on Wednesday, July 25, with 31 participants.

"We are trying to find inexpensive ways to get the community involved in fun activities here at the fair," Fair Board Director Scott Cardone said.

West Mansfield resident Shawna Maxie, 22, said she decided the day before the run that it sounded fun and she wanted to get involved. She was in town visiting with her grandmother when she heard about it.

"It was great. I would definitely do it again," Maxie said.

Contestants slid down a tube into waist-deep mud, then ran to a telephone pole. They climbed over the pole and out of the mud to hurdle over straw bales and tires.

In the traditional Mud Run that followed, contestants drove trucks, four-wheelers and other vehicles through a muddy course.

Cardone says he is very proud of all the effort the fair board has made in recent years to improve the fair.

"We are naming streets on the fairgrounds and naming buildings," he said. "Vargo Industries just committed to sponsor the Show Arena starting in 2013."

The fair board spent $18,000 on the Armory Building, with new metal, new paint and energy-efficient light bulbs.

"I would like us to continue to get more energy-efficient," Cardone said. "Scotts (Miracle-Gro Co.) donated hand dryers for the restrooms. We've been using paper towels for years. Now we have hand dryers."

Up to 27,000 people were expected to come through the gates at the Union County Fair during its 2012 run. Cardone considers the fair inexpensive family entertainment.

"We never charge at the grandstand," he noted. "We have bull riding, tractor pulls and a concert from country artist Chris Higbee. For $20, you can get a week pass and for $12, a day you can ride the rides."

Grandstand attractions include a fireworks show, motocross and harness racing.

A chainsaw carver worked on several creations that were auctioned on Saturday, with a portion of the proceeds going to Union County Hospice Care. One of the carvings was going to be donated to the Care Train of Union County.

"We are growing. The rabbit and poultry species are growing every year," Cardone said. "We had to rent a tent this year to accommodate all of the poultry."

There were little more than 300 poultry and approximately 336 market rabbits at the fair this year. The equestrian program drew enough horses to fill 160 stalls; 60 of those were in a special tent brought in to accommodate the large number horses.

Horse shows are also scheduled regularly at the fairgrounds throughout the year.

"We are trying to grow our rentals throughout the year with weddings and auctions," said Cardone.

He said the board is trying to constantly improve the fair and each member donates several volunteer hours to the process.

"We are very proud of our volunteers," Cardone said. "We're creating something for the community. It's an effort to educate the community about agriculture."