Saturday, August 4th, 2012
By Amy Kronenberger
Auglaize fair speeding to the finale
Manager: Attendance up, weather good, events popular
  WAPAKONETA - Terrific is the word Fred Piehl used to sum up the 160th Auglaize County Fair that concludes today.
"It went terrific," said the longtime fair manager. "It's been exceptionally good, and that's what we work for. We had our challenges, but we're really pleased."
Piehl said attendance increased about 15 percent every day except Wednesday, which was "about average."
"We credit a lot of the success to the weather, and hopefully it's something we're doing right," he said.
Weather during the seven-day event was sunny with temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and and lows in the 60s.
"The evenings have cooled off beautifully," Piehl said. "We're an evening fair, and we rely on that evening crowd."
Hot weather is bad for food sales, Piehl said, and vendors reported a great week.
The children's animal scramble was the most popular event again this year. Organizers last year allowed 100 kids in the horse arena to chase and capture chickens, hogs, calves and sheep, but many who wanted to participate were turned away.
This year, more than 100 kids participated and still many had to be refused. Five hundred seats were added to the arena and it was standing room only.
"We easily had a couple thousand people there," Piehl said. "The biggest complaint we had was people just couldn't get close enough to watch it."
The event next year will be at the grandstand to accommodate the crowd.
Livestock shows also were a success this year.
"All in all it's been a good week, busy but smooth," said Junior Fair selling committee leader Jack McBride. "It's amazing how much the community supports those kids ... It looks like it's going to be a good sale."
Hogs and lambs were auctioned Friday. The champion barrow hog raised by Slade Owen of the Wapakoneta FFA sold for $13,000. The reserve champion barrow raised by Diana Heitkamp of the New Knoxville Livestock Boosters was bought for $2,200.
Allison Harrod's champion gilt hog went for $4,800, and Nicole Brown's reserve champion gilt sold for $4,700. Harrod is with Fryburg Happy Farmers and Brown is with the Wapakoneta FFA.
The champion lamb raised by Austien Snapp of Fryburg Happy Farmers went for $3,200, and the reserve champion raised by Lauren Albers of New Knoxville Livestock Boosters sold for $2,200.
Goats, poultry, rabbits, steer and dairy cows were auctioned today.
Isaiah Vanderhorst, 10, of Minster, sold his hog for $375. Vanderhorst, the son of Eric Vanderhorst and Paula Bricker, raises his hogs on his grandparents' farm.
"I really like all of it," he said about raising the animals. "Before you show, you have to clean them and make sure they look really nice, and you have to walk them a lot."
"It's a seven day a week job," Bricker added.
This was Vanderhorst's first year in the Junior Fair show. He previously competed in the pee-wee competition and won best eye contact.
"He was just eyeing that judge down," his dad said. "He was really proud of that. He also does a really good job keeping his aisle clean."
Vanderhorst's sister Grace and brother Austen also compete.
Piehl estimated approximately 1,500 campers used the grounds' 350 sites, and only a few electrical glitches were reported.
"When you have that many campers, plus all the vendors, using electricity, you're going to have some transformer problems," he said.
Piehl credits the cooperation of city and county officials, who all work together with fair officials to quickly fix any problems that arise. He also credited the cooperation and patience of the campers and vendors.
"We always try to stay ahead of it," he said. "We do a lot of pre-maintenance."
Piehl said plans are in the works to make 2013's fair even better. One event he would like to improve is the truck challenge.
"It was well attended, but I think we could go one step further and improve it," he said of the event that only included monster trucks this year. "We're always trying to improve on things. If it creates dust, drips oil and makes noise, people love it."
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