County fair's reins back in veteran manager's hands
Despite featuring one of the world's most anticipated harness-racing events and the largest all-horse parade in the country as its kickoff, the Delaware County Fair, which opens Saturday, Sept. 14, holds its own, Bill Lowe says.
As the fair's general manager, Lowe said that's why the anticipated 150,000 visitors over the course of the week-long event won't see many new attractions -- just more of what they've come to expect in food, rides, games and live entertainment.
Keeping with tradition is what Lowe said allowed him to easily jump back into the general manager role in June after being away for 12 years.
"It's kind of like riding a bicycle -- you don't forget too much of it," said Lowe, who noted motorized sports weren't a part of the fair a decade ago, so he had a slight learning curve. "I noticed the first or second day I was back here that I was thinking about things I hadn't thought about in 10 years, but it was just sort of like second nature to deal with them."
In July, the fair board announced that Lowe would return on an interim basis to the post that, until 2001, he had held for 18 years.
The board's search for a new general manager began in February, but when it received just four resumes from applicants who had no prior experience in managing such a large fair, Lowe offered to run this year's event while the search for a permanent manager continues.
"It was just such a short time space between the search time and when we had to start planning, so Bill's willingness to step up and at least fill that void until the end of the year has been a godsend," said Al Myers, president of the Delaware County Agricultural Society.
"He hit the ground running, because he has so much past experience in operating the fair and has a really good working relationship with a majority of the board from previous times," Myers added. "He really made this year a lot easier."
Myers credited Lowe's connections and ability to work with others for bringing in so many vendors -- enough to fill the merchant buildings to capacity for the first time in recent memory.
The fairgrounds will be shining next weekend as a result of Lowe's dedication to making a good impression on visitors.
When asked where he can be found during any downtime at the fair, Lowe said he'll have his eyes to the ground.
"I'm big on picking up trash," he said. "We want to always present the facility in the best manner that we can."
Some permanent improvements visitors will notice this year include new siding on the dairy barns and the restoration of the race track's log cabin.
Also new for this year is a focus on local entertainment, Myers said. Although live music is a mainstay, this year's lineups are filled with central Ohio acts, including family-friendly Christian rock bands that visitors have been requesting.
The fair will run Saturday, Sept. 14, through Saturday, Sept. 21. The grounds open daily at 8 a.m. and rides will operate from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Daily admission is $6 for visitors age 9 and older, except Thursday, Sept. 19, which is Jug Day. On Sept. 19, parking is $5 per car and admission is free for children age 8 and younger, $10 for ages 9-17, $20 for ages 18 and older. Separate tickets for the race can be purchased at littlebrownjug. com.
Military members with identification can receive free admission Friday, Sept. 20, and anyone 55 and older can receive half-price admission Tuesday, Sept. 17.
For more information about the fair and daily scheduled events, visit delawarecountyfair.com.