It’s early, about 6:45 a.m., and I’m driving by the Great Geauga County Fairgrounds. The sun has just started to peak over the tops of the horse barns down towards the fishing pond. I slow down and pull in the main gate then park where the big Kubota tractor tent always sets up shop.
Thud. There goes my car door as I step outside into the cool misty morning air, and I start to walk down the main drag. As I look to the left and the right, I can see the French fry stands, the barbequed ribs sizzling, and that feat of cooking called fried cheese cake. Wait, now I can smell the elephant ears, and that soft powdered sugar is melting in my mouth and sticking to my lips. If I could just get a giant cup of homemade lemonade from the lemonade stand, then I’d be all set. Quietly, at first, I hear it; swish, squish, swish, squish, swish-swish-swish. It’s right next to me, and then……. “Hello,” says the lady walking in the cool morning fog as she passes by. Ha! I remember that I’m just day dreaming about all the fair years gone by. I smile and nod and look down the wide paved walkway that leads down towards the giant 4H presentation barn on the right and the horse arena on the left where I’ve played hundreds of late-night volleyball games after all the crowds had gravitated towards the main thoroughfare of food and games and left all of us 4H kids alone to play.
I keep heading east and pass the open arena until I reach the fishing pond. I remember when I first saw those coon hounds race through the water after that poor coon, and when I first saw a city kid catch a fish and squeal because he didn’t know how to grab hold of it and take the hook out.
If you keep walking, you enter the mini RV city that appears overnight. The horse enthusiasts and many regular families who just like to camp all week at the fair stay back here. There’s always music and laughter and campfires glowing by the time the sun starts to slip down over the horizon.
When I leave the fishing pond and head north towards the main grandstand I pass the small grandstand where I sit and watch the pony pull every year. I remember when I sat there for the first time with my grandpa and watched those little ponies tug away at that sled that kept getting heavier and heavier. Grandpa and I used to bet nickels on which pony team would win the pull. Sometimes he’d win, but sometimes I’d win, and he’d just look over at me and chuckle at me when I demanded that he pay up after losing.
Wah wah wah WAAAAH!!! The motors are whining and, all of a sudden, there are pops and snaps and sparks flying as the cars screech into action. The announcer calls the leaders and chastens the slow moving and stuck cars to get back in the action. Smashing crushing thuds, sparks, and even a fire or two with the whaling siren, start to make up the first heat of the highly anticipated demolition derby. The dust starts to rise, and the mix of exhaust and greasy fair food wafting up from behind the grandstands mixes together to create that smell that I recognize and look forward to every year. It’s Thursday night and the demo derby is here.
On every part of these grounds I’ve spent time with my friends and family. I’ve wandered through the empty buildings a few days before the makeshift town comes to life with vendors, farmers, rides, and contestants.
This year’s Great Geauga County Fair is from
August 28 to September 1.
Here’s a few reminders of the fun ahead:
On Thursday, get in FREE if you’re 18 and under. Be sure to catch the opening night Demolition Derby at 8:30 p.m. in the Main Grandstand.
On Friday, senior citizens 65 and older and all veterans are admitted FREE. Remember to get tickets for the Horse Pulling contest at 6:00 p.m. at the Main Grandstand.
Saturday is Apple Pie Day! Don’t miss the Apple Pie Auction at 1:00 p.m. Then hurry over to the Main Grandstand and get your tickets for the big Saturday night production of the Demolition Derby!
On Sunday, hear your favorite school band in the county perform live at the Main Grandstand at 1:30 p.m. then come back for the Truck Pull at 6:30 p.m.
Monday is the much-loved Frog Jumping Contest at 3:00 p.m. in the Arena, so make sure your kids come with frog in hand, or bucket! Then finish out your last night over at the Main Grandstand for the Truck and Tractor Pull at 3:30 p.m.
These are just some of the fabulous offerings that will be awaiting you at this year’s Great Geauga County Fair. Visit their website HERE to get the full schedule of events.
What’s your favorite fair memory? What days are you going this year? Maybe I’ll see you there!