Ottawa County Fair celebrating 55 years

Yaneek Smith

        The Ottawa County Fair is well known for offering something for everyone -- good food, great music and plenty of entertainment options.
        This year’s fair runs July 15-21 at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds, 7870 W. SR 163, Oak Harbor.
        The fair, celebrating its 55th year in 2019, will feature always-popular events like the demolition derby, the hog-calling contest and the harness races. There will also be three nights of musical acts – Willow Hill (Thursday); Pure Country (Friday); and Tobi Lee & Mustang Sally (Saturday) – some of which have a local following. They’ll perform as part of the GenoaBank Concert Series at the First Energy Pavilion, which now has a concrete floor.
        There is also a cornhole tournament scheduled, along with the rodeo, the tractor pull and for the first time, helicopter rides will be available to the public.
        Admission is $5 per day or $25 for a weekly pass.
        “You can see the fair in just a few hours for five dollars,” said Mike Libben, second vice president of the fair board. “You can spend all day there and relax and have good fair food, look at all the animals, see what the kids have done and catch the entertainment; the music is free. You can just buy the food and enjoy yourself.
        “We have the entertainment element, and hopefully we’re drawing the community in with some unique events that you don’t see everywhere – the demolition derbies, the tractor pulls and the rodeo. These are the guys that are doing it for fun. They do it because they enjoy the sport.”
        Among the crowd favorites at the event is the junior fair, where children work to prepare and put their animals on display for the public. One of the key players of the junior fair for years was Kathy Booher, who passed away last year from cancer. She ran the 4-H program for 20-plus years, and in her memory, the Kathy Booher Junior Fair Improvement Fund was established to raise money to help pay for improvements to the fair. This year, the money was used to install ventilation fans in the show barn.
        “We’re still trying to raise funds,” said Libben. “It’s something that will have a lasting legacy for Kathy.”
        Planning for the fair is a year-round event, something that requires time, effort and dedication from the board of directors.
        “We see what needs to be done, what’s (going to be) new and different,” said Libben of the planning process. “We have hundreds of volunteers; everybody that helps out at the fairgrounds works to help beautify the grounds and put on a good event each year.”
        For more info and a complete schedule of fair events, visit
Zoe Zink, of Phoenix, Arizona, gets a nuzzle from a fair horse at last year’s Ottawa County Fair. The then 3-year-old, and her parents were visiting relatives in the Oak Harbor area when they decided to make a stop at the fair. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)


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