Summit County Fair prepares for opening

Fewer booths, but rides, some events still planned for this year’s event

April Helms
Kent Weeklies
Fairgoers ride the swings at the Summit County Fair in Tallmadge in 2019. This year's fair will be one day shorter and run from July 29 through Aug. 2.

TALLMADGE – Summit County fairgoers can see the demolition derby, truck and tractor pulls, draft horse competition, watch the animal judging, munch on fair foods, enjoy carnival rides and see the crowning of the 2020 king and queen at this year’s fair.

There have been several changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although officials with the fair have tried to keep the staples and the atmosphere intact. This year’s fair is scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 2, which is one day shorter than typical. Online tickets sales, as well as schedules, are available and encouraged at the Summit County Fair website, https://www.summitfair.com/faireverything.html.

Fairgoers will see numerous handwashing and sanitizing stations, and traffic in the barns and buildings will be one-way, according to information provided by officials from the Summit County Fair. Staff will routinely sanitize restrooms, picnic tables, benches and highly touched surfaces. Grandstand shows will be at half capacity, or 1,500 spectators, and seating and handrails will be sanitized before each show. The fair will reduce inside vendor spaces from 72 spaces to 45 spaces to spread them apart.

Grounds attendance will be at half capacity each day. Per the state mask mandate announced on Wednesday, guests ages 10 and older will be required to wear masks unless they have a medical reason, they are playing sports, are eating, are actively involved in public safety, or are officiants at religious services. Fair directors, employees and volunteers will be required to wear a mask unless they are behind barriers, working by themselves, such as working in the parking lot, or in extreme heat, when social distancing will then take place.

The Summit County Fair posted this notice on its website: “An inherent risk of exposure to COVID19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable. By visiting the Summit County Fairgrounds and the Fair, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID19.”

Some staples were canceled this year, such as senior fair open exhibit classes and the Farm Bureau Museum. Also, while carnival rides will be available through the run of the fair, they will be closed daily from 4 to 5 p.m. for cleaning.

The Summit County Fair will have its royalty crowned July 26. The 2020 king and queen, and the presentation of the court, are scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. at the fairgrounds. However, the prince and princess, and junior prince and princess competitions were canceled this year.

Cathy Cunningham, the fair manager with the Summit County Agricultural Society, said that they wanted to maintain the King and Queen competition, since this will be the last year many of these 4-H members could participate.

“There’s a lot of duties and interactions,” Cunningham said. “Also, these older young adults can interact with social distancing and wear a mask.”

The King and Queen must be between 16 and 19 as of Jan. 1 this year, must be a current member of a 4-H Club and/or Junior Fairboard, and must be a member of a Summit County 4-H Club and/or Summit County Junior Fairboard for three years, including the current year.

Hours and admission

General fair admission is $7 for those 9 and older, and $3 for children ages 2 to 8. A season pass, with five grounds admission tickets, is $30. All-day ride passes are $15 on Wednesday, and Friday through Sunday, and $10 on Thursday. An all-week ride pass is $50. Individual ride tickets will be available.

Grandstand prices for Motocross is $12; prices for the truck and tractor pulls is $15; and for the demolition derby is $15 and $18, depending on the section. All prices include fair admission. Parking is free.

The fair also has discount days. On Wednesday, admission is $3 for seniors, veterans, active military and members of the farm bureau. On Thursday, those 14 and younger get free admission, and ride wristbands are $10. On Sunday, Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank Day, those 17 and younger can bring a box or can of food for free grounds admission.

On Thursday through Saturday, the main gates will open at 11 a.m., with concessions and rides opening at noon. The fair closes at 11 p.m. those days.

On Wednesday, the main gate will open at 10 a.m. and the fair will be open for those at high risk of complications from COVID-19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Concessions and rides open at 11 a.m., and the fair will close at 11 p.m.

On Sunday, the final day of the fair, main gates will open at 11 a.m., with concessions and rides opening at noon. The fair will close at 8 p.m.

Car Raffle

The Summit County Fair is sponsoring a raffle to benefit the construction of a new Youth Building. Tickets are $10, with prizes including a two-year lease on a Kia Soul from VanDevere in Akron, or a cash prize of $2,500. Tickets have a $10 off coupon for an oil change and a free car wash at the dealership. Contact the office to buy tickets at summitcofair2@gmail.com.

Cunningham said the previous building, one of the original structures on the fairgrounds, was torn down because “it just got too unsafe.” The building hadn’t been used in 15 years, she added. The Summit County Agricultural Society only recently started fundraising for the new building, and has so far raised $8,000 of the $275,000 needed. Other fundraisers had been planned, but Cunningham said “the ones we had planned had been in person, and we couldn’t do that.” In addition to the raffle, the organization is applying for grants to fund the construction.

Currently, the 4-H members and Junior Fair Board members have a building to meet in, but it must be rented, Cunningham said. Having their own building will make meeting times more flexible. During the fair, she said, the space would be used for the Junior Fair rabbit class and the open class. For the rest of the year, as well as meeting space, the structure could be used for events such as clinics.

Other events

The Motocross is on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Sign up is 5:30 p.m., and practice is 6:30 p.m.

The Demolition Derby is Thursday, starting at 7:30 p.m. There is a special Power Wheels class for children at 6:15 p.m.

The Truck Pulls are Friday starting at 7:30 p.m., and the Tractor Pulls start Saturday at 7 p.m.

On Wednesday is the draft horse and pony halter competition, starting at 7 p.m. On Friday is the draft horse and pony pull, starting at 6 p.m. The draft horse and pony cart event is Saturday starting at 10 a.m.

The Summit County Fair will host a cruise-in on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This indoor event will include door prizes and awards. The event is open to both cars and trucks, and there are no restrictions on entry.

For details on the various animal competitions and judging, visit https://www.summitfair.com/4Hjrfair.html online.

The Summit County Fair is on the fairgrounds, at 229 E. Howe Road in Tallmadge, For details, ticket information and guidelines, call 330-633-6200, check the Summit County Agricultural Society’s Facebook page, or visit the Summit County Fair’s website at https://summitfair.com/ online.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at ahelms@recordpub.com