The drivers on the track may have the best rides at the Delaware County Fair, but the folks on the midway have a close second at their disposal.

New rides on the midway and a varied entertainment schedule will be on tap during the 2018 Delaware County Fair, which runs Sept. 15-22 at the fairgrounds on Pennsylvania Avenue.

"This is our 184th Delaware County Fair," said fair manager Sandra Kuhn, "so I think that in itself shows the importance of our fair, that it's lasted that long. The goal of the fair is safe, affordable entertainment for families."

She said the fair's average attendance over recent years has been 150,000 to 160,000, with more than 40,000 attending the Little Brown Jug harness race held the Thursday of every fair week.

Bates Amusement, which provided the fair's midway rides for many years, will be absent this year.

Kuhn said Bates told a fair managers' conference in January 2017 that it was going out of business by 2018.

County-fair board members interviewed three other midway companies and visited their midways at other fairs last summer, she said.

In what Kuhn called a close vote, the fair board gave the 2018 contract to Cincinnati-based Triple Treat Shows, which says it provides thrill rides, family rides, kids rides, food and games.

It will bring to Delaware a full complement of midway attractions, Kuhn said, including a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round.

Other changes will be seen at the racetrack's grandstand.

A new Starting Gate bar and concession stand will open under the grandstand, replacing a restaurant that previously operated there.

Two sets of portable bleachers will be installed to replace older bleachers removed at the west side of the grandstand. Kuhn said the change will accommodate Thursday's crowd for the Brown Jug.

An extensive project this year was maintenance to the grandstand's steel structure, which was built in 1938. Kuhn said the steel was sandblasted and treated with the same paint used on bridges to prevent deterioration.

The project cost about $200,000 and was funded by the county bed tax, which raises money for infrastructure improvements at the fairgrounds.

The 3 percent tax on hotel bills was approved by county voters in 2016 and is scheduled to run for five years.

After the fair ends, the fair board hopes to replace its Junior Fair building with a new structure -- another project funded by the bed tax.

Fair board member Chip Thomson said the board is grateful for the public's support in enacting the tax and is determined to be good stewards of the funds.

Kuhn said the new grandstand bar and concession stand will have a liquor license for Wednesday and Thursday of the fair, when the Jugette and Brown Jug races are held.

Four locations around the fair will sell liquor those days. In addition, beer and wine will be sold at five locations at the grandstand and at the motor-sports area for the rest of fair week.

Kuhn said harness racing has been in good financial health in recent years, thanks to the state's decision to allow "racino" video-lottery terminals at horse-racing tracks. The terminals raise money used to support horse racing around the state.

Concerts will be held near the racetrack at 8 p.m. Sept. 15, 21 and 22.

Well-known Ohio band McGuffey Lane, which formed in the 1970s, will perform Sept. 22, before the fair ends its run with a fireworks display.

The Thirsty Travelers, a central Ohio band that plays a wide variety of rock music, will play Sept. 21.

The country rock band Jon Anthony and Wishful Drinkin' will perform Sept. 15.

A new Friday-night event at the motor sports area will be trailer races. The event will resemble a demolition derby, but the goal is to knock loose trailers pulled by other vehicles, instead of smashing cars themselves.

A full entertainment schedule can be found at the fair's website, delawarecountyfair.com/fair/entertainment.cfm.

Some of the highlights include:

* Mobile Glass Studios will be near the WDLR stage Sept. 15-17. Glass artist Ryan Gothrup will demonstrate glass blowing by producing a number of items. A woodcarver also will give demonstrations near the stage Sept. 18-22.

* New to this fair this year will be several dog rescue groups, highlighting adoptable dogs at a booth in the Coliseum building.

* First Bite Fishing Tanks will be at the fair all week. Fairgoers can view fish in the tanks, and instructors will be on hand to give children the opportunity to learn how to fish.

* Dinosaur Xperience, a friendly dinosaur, will wander the fairgrounds greeting the crowd. Also strolling the fairgrounds will be Eli the Magician, Abraham Lincoln impersonator John Cooper, and Gizmo D. Robot, a mechanized comedian.

* Tiger Lee's Martial Arts Taekwondo of Delaware will stage demonstrations Sept. 18-22.

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