When the Union County Fair starts Sunday, July 21, visitors will notice a new addition to the grounds: A new building to house horses.
Scott Cardone, a member of the fair's board of directors, said the new building makes a statement that the fair board is committed to continuous upgrades.
"It's help from our sponsors that supports the fair, that makes it happen. Everybody donates a dollar and we put it to good use," Cardone said.
The board has invested roughly $152,000 in upgrades this year, he said. The list includes poured concrete under the grandstands where vendors are set up, lighting in the Merchants Building and ceiling fans in the Armory to help keep kids who are showing animals stay cool.
Cardone said the board continuously looks for ways to improve the campus.
"We've got some new board members we've appointed and it sounds like they have some new and exciting ideas they want to see implemented for next year," he said. "Just because the fair ends doesn't mean we stop. We always want to critique and see how to make it better."
Last year, there were a little more than 300 poultry and approximately 336 market rabbits and horses filling 160 stalls. The number of rabbit and poultry entries has exploded in recent years and Cardone said those higher numbers are holding steady this year.
"That's still a positive thing for us," he said. "Despite the economy, it goes to show you families are investing back into their kids."
Gates for the 2013 Union County Fair open at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is $6 per person; children age 5 and younger are admitted free, as are senior citizens who are age 80 and older. Senior citizens can buy passes good for the week with a Golden Buckeye Card for $14.
Adult passes cost $20 but that does not include the cost of rides. All-day ride bands are $12 a day; individual ride tickets are $1.50 each.
Rides are scheduled to start after 5:30 p.m. Monday, pending state inspections. Rides are open from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and from noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Union County Fair Parade starts downtown Monday, July 22, with lineup at 5:30 p.m. at the County Building parking lot on Sixth Street, and ends at the fairgrounds. The Union County Fair Idol Contest starts at 7 p.m. on the QT1270 Stage inside the DCB Pavilion. The day is capped off with fireworks at dusk.
Grandstand entertainment includes motocross at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, and a concert featuring Justin McBride and Daryle Singletary at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 24.
McBride will be the guest commentator Thursday, July 25, for the Tough Enough Bull-Riding and Girls Barrel Racing at 7:30 p.m. The schedule for Friday, July 26, includes the Truck and Tractor Pulls at 7 p.m. at the grandstand. The Redneck Mud Run (foot race) starts at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27.
Saturday is the last day of the fair and many families typically participate in the Cutest Baby Contest at 4 p.m. inside the DCB Pavilion.
Cardone said the county fair is all about family fun.
"We want it to be a place where families can come and meet the neighbors," he said. "We still want to provide nice entertainment. We're pretty excited this year. We encourage everyone to come and eat some fair food!"