Old-fashioned fun enjoyed at Hancock fair

NEW MANCHESTER – All the tractor-driving, seed-spitting, donkey-kissing, pie-eating participants at the Hancock County Oldtime Fair proved over the weekend that it’s still possible to have fun without a smartphone.

Visitors who paid a dollar for admission at Tomlinson Run State Park got hours of musical entertainment, a car show, a tractor show, exhibit tents and aisles of food and craft vendors.

“We come over here every year because it’s a cheap, fun day,” said Chris Ketchum, of East Liverpool, who spent much of the weekend at the fair with her husband, Shane, and her daughter, Madison. “We like to look at the exhibits, and our daughter plays all the games.”

As the fair wrapped up on Sunday, organizers said they were pleased with the turnout despite the conspicuous absence of farm animals. The fair board decided not to have livestock judging and showing this year because of health and liability concerns. In the tent that normally houses farm animals was instead an exhibit of vintage farm equipment.

“We filled it quite well,” said fair board President Char Conley. “Nobody has mentioned anything to me about the animals.”

Conley said the fair got off to a strong start Friday evening, despite intermittent rain. The fair opened and closed with a tractor parade down Veterans Boulevard (state Route 8). In the meantime, the fair featured Barnyard Olympics, tractor games, a Kidz Kookie Contest, pie judging, hourly entertainment and more.

“It’s more of a country feel. It’s smaller. … People come mostly for the company and the socializing,” Conley said.

Gary McDonald, of Lisbon, was in charge of the tractor games on Saturday and Sunday – games such as bucket rodeo, barrel roll, egg-in-a-spoon, chain-in-a-box and tractor hockey. There also was an obstacle course, including one requiring a blindfold, and a contest to see who could ride his or her tractor the slowest.

“It’s real laid back,” McDonald said. “We’re here to have fun and to entertain folks. That’s the main purpose.”

At the Barnyard Olympics, children in the age categories 2-5, 6-10 and 11-15 competed in the stick horse race, the sack race, the skillet toss, the pedal tractor pull and seed spitting. In the latter, children lined up to see who could spit a pumpkin seed the farthest. The record was 13 feet, 1 inch.

When Paydon Conley and Madison Ketchum tied by spitting their seeds a distance of 6 feet, 4 inches, organizer Harry White declared a “seed-off.” Conley won by two inches.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)