The Hartford Fair opens for its 153rd season Aug. 7 and will run through Aug. 13.

The Hartford Fair opens for its 153rd season Aug. 7 and will run through Aug. 13.

The contest for fair king and queen will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, in the Pavilion building the night before the fair opens.

Among the featured acts this year are the JaneDear Girls and Josh Thompson, in a country music performance at 7:30 p.m. Monday, along with horse shows and horse pulls and motorized events such as tractor pulls and obstacle course contests.

"Our biggest draw is the rough truck contest, where they run over some little mountains and curves and water and so forth, said fair manager Larry Hughes. "It's done on time and speed. That's our biggest draw, and the demolition derby is two or three. The truck and tractor pull on Tuesday is right there. Motocross is up there."

Hartford Fair is one of the few fairs that serve more than one county.

"We're all similar," Hughes said of Ohio's traditional county fairs. "We all have different activities, but we're all similar in that most of the fair is for the kids.

"Our fair is unique in that we cover all of Licking County for 4H and a little bit of Knox County and a little bit of Delaware County," he said. "Depending on where the kids live, in certain townships, they can show here. A lot of the county fairs are for one particular county alone. Our bylaws and regulations were set up 153 years ago, with individuals from Delaware and Knox counties, and they happened to set up a fair where we happen to be at the present time."

Among the major events at the fair each year are school bus races, motocross and demolition derby.

Hughes said attendance last year was down a bit from the year before, with about 215,000 total, compared to about 235,000 previously.

Fair rides will be provided by Otterbacher shows, which also serves Knox County.

"He's been here, probably 12 years, 14 years," Hughes said. "He cares about the Hartford Fair.

"A couple of years ago he came in and said you need to paint your fence out along the road. I said yeah, we've talked about it but we can't find any electrostatic painters out there.

"He said, why don't I put my men on it? They had a week between the Knox County Fair and the Hartford Fair and he put his men to work rolling and brushing the fence."

Hughes said money earned from gate fees and concession fees is put into maintaining the capital stock of barns and utilities at the fairgrounds.

"What monies we make go right back into the Hartford Fairgrounds," Hughes said. "We get a little bit of support from Delaware and a little bit from Knox and Licking counties, but that probably covers 1 percent of our expenses."

Significant capital expenditures are required every year.

"We put in tiling for drainage this year in our south parking lot and that approached $30,000," Hughes said. "We upgraded 140 of our camp sites with new electric service, upgrading it from 20 amps to 30 amps, so they could run air conditioners. We added water to some spots that had been primitive. That cost us about $25,000.

"It just goes on and on," he said. "What we make goes right back to the fairgrounds."

At some point, Hughes said, he would like to replace the water system throughout the grounds. No one still living knows where the current lines have been installed, which makes repairs difficult.

"It's helter-skelter around the fairgrounds," Hughes said. "We'd like one line that goes around and then have feeders off of that to the barns, to the restrooms, to the outside horse arenas. People coming behind us 50 years or 100 years from now will know where the lines are.

"The people who put them in many years ago are no longer with us," he said, "and we have to kind of guess and hit and we just don't know where things are for sure."

In addition to the food, rides and animals, the fair includes demonstrations for milking an artificial cow and picking artificial apples.

"Kids don't know where milk comes from any more," Hughes said.

Corporate sponsors of the fair include Tech International, Inc., NU Way Services, Park National Bank, Heartland Bank, Lash Chevrolet, Washington Carquest Auto Parts and Ohio Fresh Eggs.

Schedules and additional information can be found at www.hartfordfair.com.