Gift from commissioners gets fair off to a good start

LISBON – Under cloudy skies, cool temperatures and brand new seating, the 169th annual Columbiana County Fair is now under way.

The fair officially kicked off Monday afternoon at the Arnold C. Green Memorial Grandstand, hailed as the new centerpiece of the fair, during the fair’s opening ceremonies.

Representatives from several state and county offices were on hand to open the fair, and representatives from the offices of Gov. John Kasich, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Ohio Secretary of State John Huston and Attorney General Mike DeWine offered commendations to the fair.

County Commissioners Tim Weigle, Mike Halleck and Jim Hoppel also presented a $20,000 check to the fair board, which would go toward new Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms, which the fair looks to install for next year’s fair.

Fair board vice president Steve Knizat talked about how the board continued to hear the questions of restrooms at the grandstand being built, and now after the commissioners’ donation, how the questions could be partially to rest.

“That is something we hear about every year,” Knizat said. “Right here, this is the spur probably that’s going to start this up again.”

The officials then joined board president John Wolf in the cutting the ribbon to signify the opening of the fair.

After the opening ceremony concluded, crew members began working on the track for its first official sports event in the new grandstand, the first of three truck and tractor pulls taking place this week.

Many fairgoers took note of the cooler-than-normal weather, and with concerns of more rain after heavy rains hit the area Sunday, Knizat said he received several calls about the truck and tractor pull’s status and whether or not it would happen Monday night.

“The only thing that could keep us from having a pull is if it pours right when we start,” Knizat said. “That’s the only thing that causes trouble, but we’ve never ever canceled a pull here.”

Once the clouds parted and the sun started shining after 6 p.m., the pull was a firm go and the competition got under way just after 7 p.m.

“For fair week, we’ll take a ‘dozer and we’ll cut the whole surface of dirt off every class if we have to just so they can pull on fresh ground again,” Knizat said.

The fair resumes at 8 a.m. today with many events including the Agriculture Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at the Arts and Crafts Building.

Later on, harness racing will take place at 1 p.m. at the grandstand, followed by Bike Night festivities at 4 p.m. at the racetrack, and then Phil Dirt and the Dozers will grace the stage for the first of the fair’s two free grandstand concerts at 7:30 p.m.

Senior citizens age 62 and older and veterans are admitted free today, and rides will open following the completion of a state ride inspection.