Knox County Fair 2019

MOUNT VERNON – The Knox County Fair will begin Sunday, bringing with it many of the traditions that have carried the fair for the last 150-plus years. The Junior Fair livestock shows. The rides. The entertainment – everything from goat tying competitions to rough truck shows.

But there will be some changes to this year’s fair, including a couple of brand new features.

The rides will be bigger, fair board member Kyle Atherton said. He mentioned one called the Fireball, which skies 65 feet in the air and “does a big loop, like a rollercoaster.”

Fireball ride

The Fireball ride will be centrally located this year at the Knox County fairgrounds.

There will also be more rides than in years past, Atherton said, although he could not provide numbers for comparison. He added that the rides will be more accessible and affordable for fairgoers this year.

“I know last year there was a lot of special attractions that you had to pay more to ride,” Atherton said. “This year, there’s more that your tickets and your wristbands work for.”

The fair board went with a new ride company this year: Bates Brothers Amusements, out of Wintersville, Ohio. The company will supply amusement rides for several other Ohio county fairs this year, according to its website, including Medina, Muskingum, Portage, Geauga, Wayne, Ashland and Coshocton.

Perhaps the most talked-about addition to the fair this year is the beer gardens.

The Knox County Agricultural Society (commonly referred to as the fair board) obtained a permit this spring to sell beer at the fairgrounds. Atherton said there will be beer gardens set up in three locations: near the grandstand, on the infield, and up on the hill, near the practice arena.

The one near the grandstand will be open every day, while the other two will open on certain occasions. For example, when the autocross and motocross competitions are held on the hilltop, the beer garden there will be open. On Saturday night, during the tractor pull, the infield garden will open. Only one beer garden location will be open at a time, fair board president Dustin Beheler told the Knox County commissioners in May.

Beheler said a snow fence will surround each beer garden. Fair staff will serve Anheuser-Busch products, such as Bud Light, Busch Light and Budweiser, in aluminum bottles. Original craft beers from Stein Brewing Company will be served on tap.

Patrons will be allowed to bring food into the beer garden. Tables and chairs will be positioned for watching fair events.

“Our intent is not to have people go there and get drunk, but just to have a drink and enjoy the events,” Beheler told the county commissioners.

The fair board plans to enforce strict rules in regards to the beer gardens, Atherton said, to ensure safety for fairgoers. Any beer purchased inside the garden has to stay inside the garden, he said. Even those who bring other liquids, such as lemonade, into the beer garden must empty their cups when they leave.

Deputies from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office will man the beer garden gates, Atherton said. Patrons must be 21 to drink.

“It’s going to be very closely monitored,” Atherton said.

The fair will likely benefit financially from beer sales this year. That's the plan, at least. Beheler said other county fairs report profits in the range of $30,000 to $40,000.

“We've researched this for several years now,” he told the commissioners, adding that the board specifically checked into the incidence of crime associated with serving beer. “All has been good feedback.

"There have been several instances where individuals have been caught drinking on the grounds, and we feel this way we can police it a little better.”

The third major change to this year’s fair is the move from a concert to a rodeo on Friday night.

The fair board brought the Friday night concert back last year after taking a year off, but Atherton said it once again proved to be a net-loss financially. This led the board to go in a different direction this year, positioning the rodeo as the main event.

“We tried the concert last year and we’ve tried it numerous years before that... By the time you sign an entertainer that draws a crowd, you’re so far in debt that – I mean, we can’t afford to keep it. It was a big loss for us every year money-wise,” Atherton said.

“And as much as we would love to have a concert to give back to the community, we can’t physically afford to have a concert when you’re losing $30,000 to $40,000 year after year.”

Last year’s concert was headlined by Mustang Sally, a country band from Nashville that had previously performed alongside the likes of Blake Shelton and Montgomery Gentry. The Knox County Fair has played host to musical entertainers like Kellie Pickler, Thompson Square, Luke Bryan, Shelton and the Oak Ridge Boys in years past.

This year’s rodeo will take place on the grandstand Friday at 7 p.m. It will feature bull riding, bronc riding, barrel racing and team roping.

The fair also added motocross and autocross this year, which will take place on Monday and Friday, respectively. Both competitions will occur on the upper track.

Atherton characterized autocross as “similar to rough truck, but it’s two cars running side by side on essentially a rough truck course.” Motocross is a form of off-course motorcycle racing, held on the same course.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the upper-90s on Saturday, during move-in day at the fairgrounds. Atherton said those moving livestock onto the property are encouraged to “move slow” and stay hydrated during the intense heat.

“Don’t be in a hurry to move your animals in. Get here as early as you can to move your animals in; keep them cool when it’s cooler in the day,” Atherton said. “Everybody needs to drink plenty of fluids and try not to overdo it.”

This is Atherton’s fifth year on the fair board. Calling from the fairgrounds Thursday, he said this week typically feels like “controlled chaos” for those organizing the event.

But once fair week hits, Atherton said it all feels worth it. He grew up in Knox County and has gone to the fair every year of his life. To the families and children here, Atherton said it’s a tradition unlike any other.

“Fair week, I know growing up for me, is the time you see friends that you’ve made every year through 4-H. This is the one week of the year you get to spend all week with them, rather than just seeing them for a minute or two out in public,” Atherton said.

“You hang out with families up in the campgrounds that you normally don’t hang out with other than fair week. There’s just a different type of friendship – your fair friends are a different type of friends than what you have elsewhere.”

The fairgrounds will open at 8 a.m. every day next week, from Sunday through Saturday. They will close once the final events conclude each night.

General admission will be $7. Children 8 years old and under will get in free. Veterans will get in free until 5 p.m. on Thursday (driver’s license with veteran’s endorsement required). Senior citizens will get in for $3 every day until 5 p.m. (Golden Buckeye card required).

Tickets will be available at the gate. There will be a mobile ATM in the parking lot again this year, Atherton said.


2019 Knox County Fair Schedule

Certain events will be held every day. The Ag Museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, and the Indian Artifact Display will be open from 3-9 p.m. every day except Wednesday.


Sunday, July 21

Knox County Career Center Schools Day

  • Worship service (8 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Equine Show (8 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Market Rabbit Show, followed by Rabbit Showmanship (9 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair King and Queen judging (11 a.m.)
  • Ground roping and goat-tying competition (2 p.m.)
  • 27th annual Little Miss Knox County (2 p.m.)
  • Flower specimen and artistic arrangement judging (2 p.m.)
  • Opening ceremonies (3 p.m.)
  • Draft pony & horse pull (3 p.m.)
  • Pen of Three Market Lamb Judging, followed by Junior Fair Sheep Showmanship, followed by Market Lamb Show (3 p.m.)
  • Equine Club introductions/Equine Royalty (5 p.m.)
  • NTPA Pull (five classes) followed by Buckeye Power Productions Pull (four classes) (6 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Swine Showmanship (6 p.m.)


Monday, July 22

Mid State Waste Day

  • Junior Fair Equine Show (8 a.m.)
  • Grange exhibit judging (9 a.m.)
  • 4-H vegetable judging (9 a.m.)
  • Open Class/Dairy Show, followed by Junior Fair Dairy Show (9 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Dairy Showmanship & Show (9 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Market Poultry Show (9:30 a.m.)
  • Draft Horse & Pony Hitch Classes (9:30 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Market, followed by Meat Production Goat Showmanship (11 a.m.)
  • Dairy Market Feeder Showmanship (1 p.m.)
  • Horticulture judging (1 p.m.)
  • Hunting skills (1-3 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Market Goats Show, followed by Meat Production Doe Show (1 p.m.)
  • Harness Racing (6 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Swine Show (6 p.m.)
  • Equine Contest Challenge (6 p.m.)
  • Motocross (7 p.m.)


Tuesday, July 23

Loudonville Farmer’s Equity Day

  • Junior Fair Equine Show (8 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Dairy Goat and Pygmy Goat Showmanship, followed by Goat Master Showmanship Competition, followed by Dairy Goat, Pygmy and Pack Show (9 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Poultry Production Show, followed by Poultry Showmanship (9:30 a.m.)
  • 4-H booth judging (10 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Dairy Market Feeder Show, followed by Market Dairy Steer Show (11 a.m.)
  • Knox County Cub Scout Troops & Pack 332 Fun Day at the Fair (1-8 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Equine Mini Show (2 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Draft Hitch Classes (5 p.m.)
  • KOI Dirt Drag Racing (6 p.m.)
  • Harness Racing (6 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Beef Feeder Show, followed by Market Beef Show (6 p.m.)


Wednesday, July 24

Fredericktown Chevrolet Day

  • Junior Fair Equine Show (8 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Sheep Breeding Show (9 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Market Dairy Steer and Market Beef Steer Showmanship, followed by Beef Breeding Show (9 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Rabbit Breeding Show (9 a.m.)
  • Goat Costume Fun Show (10 a.m.)
  • Lamb Cook-Off, with tasting to follow (11:30 a.m.)
  • Peewee/Lead in Sheep Show (12:30 p.m.)
  • Open Class Sheep Show (2 p.m.)
  • Showman of Showmen (2:45 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Dog Show (6 p.m.)
  • Junior/Senior Versatility Show (6 p.m.)
  • Rough Truck & Side by Side Racing (7 p.m.)


Thursday, July 25

Central Ohio Farmers Co-Op Day

Senior Citizen Day & Veterans Day

Junior Fair Sale Day

  • Junior Fair Equine Show (8 a.m.)
  • Sale building opens (8 a.m.)
  • Draft Horse & Draft Pony Halter Classes (9 a.m.)
  • Sale Announcements and Special Awards (9 a.m.)
  • Sale of Champions: Turkey, Market Dairy Steer, Market Goat, Broilers, Market Hog, Fryers, Market Beef, Dairy Products, Dairy Market Feeder, Pen of 3 Lambs, Market Lamb (9:30 a.m.)
  • Senior Citizen Day event (10 a.m.)
  • Order of Sale in Multipurpose Arena: Broilers, Fryers, Turkeys, Beef Feeders, Market Beef, Market Dairy Steers, Dairy Market Feeders, Market Lambs (12 p.m.)
  • Order of Sale in Swine Arena: Market Hogs, Market Goats (12 p.m.)
  • Equine Groom & Clean Competition (1 p.m.)
  • Artistic Flower Show (1 p.m.)
  • Antique Tractor Parade (4 p.m.)
  • Junior Fair Equine Miniature Horse Show (6 p.m.)
  • Demolition Derby, Figure 8 Truck & Car Races (6:30 p.m.)
  • Antique Tractor Pull (7 p.m.)


Friday, July 26

Danville Feed & Supply Day

  • Junior Fair English Jumping Show, followed by Equine Fun Show (8 a.m.)
  • Open Beef Show (11 a.m.)
  • Cloverbud Stick Horse Show (4 p.m.)
  • Autocross (6 p.m.)
  • Championship Rodeo (7 p.m.)


Saturday, July 27

Custom Cutters Day

  • Youth fishing & archery sports (9 a.m.)
  • Youth games (10 a.m.)
  • Open Class Hog Weigh-In (10 a.m.)
  • Junior Fair Llama Show (10 a.m.)
  • Entries close for youth bicycle drawing (11 a.m.)
  • Youth bicycle drawing – must be present to win (12 p.m.)
  • Terminal Market Hog Show (1 p.m.)
  • Pedal Tractor Pull (1 p.m.)
  • Barn Yard Olympics (3 p.m.)
  • OSTPA Truck/Tractor Pull (7 p.m.)

Don't Miss This Story:

Support Our Journalism

Our stories will always be free to read, but they aren't free to produce. We need your support. To help our news organization tell Knox County's story every day, join our team. Become a member today for less than $5/month.

Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.