Attendance has been subpar in the first days of the Hartford Fair, but manager Larry Hughes expects improved weather to give the eight-day event a boost.

“We’re a little down on attendance,” he said. “We had rain on Monday.”

He said the fair is down about 5,000 from last year, with a total of 5,844 people going through the gates on the first two days, Aug. 5 and 6.

“The way it looks now, we’ll recoup,” Hughes said. “Everything is going smooth.”

The fair’s main grandstand draws are yet to come, with Monster trucks Aug. 9, Fast Traxx Motocross Racing on Aug. 10, the Rough Truck contest Aug. 11 and championship horse pull Aug. 12.

Barnyard Buddies 4-H member Makynzie Claypool is at the fair this week to show 8-month-old Lana, her steer.

“I’m doing showmanship,” she said. “When she was 2 months old, we took her home. I got her used to people and walking around.”

Claypool said she also worked with the steer to get her used to being washed and brushed.

“She will probably get shown again next year,” Makynzie said.

Erich Rhodedack, 14, of Mount Vernon is participating in the fair with breeding stock and market goats.

“(Judges) like a long, extended neck, and they like them wide in the front and back,” he said. “They like them thick.”

He said he would sell the market goats.

“I’ve done goats my whole life,” Erich said. “I like competing to see how my goats compare to others. This is my hobby. It’s fun.”

Hannah Schlabach of Newark said she’s participating in “about everything” with her quarter horse, Fred.

Rachel Whittaker, a Licking Valley High School junior, is showing her pig, Bailey, at the fair.

She said she has spent two hours a day with the swine in preparation of the fair.

“I’ve cared for her — washed her and walked her,” she said. “I’ve given her lots of treats. She likes marshmallows and Oreos.”

Five-year-old Hadley Severns enjoyed a different kind of competition Aug. 6.

The Northridge kindergartner was among many participants in the ice-cream-eating contest.

“It’s good,” she said, still licking the vanilla ice cream out of the container.

The 159th Hartford Fair continues through Saturday, Aug. 12, when admission is free.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla