BARLOW - The weather couldn't have been better for Sunday's wrap-up of the 141st annual Barlow Fair.
"I come to this fair every year, but this time it has been excellent - they've cleaned up the grounds and fixed up the buildings, and the new rides are great," said Fleming resident Michael Johnson.
His friend, Sara Dillon, a Parkersburg native, agreed.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Tim Cunningham, of Waterford, gets his tractor ready to tow a sled bearing 13,000 pounds during the annual Tug Pull at the 2012 Barlow Fair on Sunday afternoon.
"This is my first time at the fair, and it's really nice - it feels very homey," she said Sunday afternoon.
Sid Brackenridge, a fair board director, said at least 8,000 people were expected to attend this year's event, which ran from Friday through Sunday at the Barlow Fairgrounds at the intersection of Ohio 550 and Ohio 339.
"We've had really decent weather for all of our attractions this year," he said. "And the new amusement company we're using has put together a bigger and better variety of rides."
Big "O" Amusements Inc. provided a full array of rides and other midway attractions.
"The fair and the rides were a lot better this year," said Derek Reynolds as he and wife, Audrey, waited for the annual tractor Tug Pull to begin early Sunday afternoon.
"I come for the food," Audrey said. "And I really like the Wesley Township's barbeque steak sandwiches."
Derek's sister, Yvonne Gilders, now lives in Athens County with husband, Nathan.
"He married into it," Yvonne said. "I grew up in Barlow, and now we come every year."
Bob Reynolds said he's been attending the Barlow Fair for at least 57 years.
"It's grown somewhat as far as attendance," he said. "And I see a lot more people who come here from outside the local community."
Reynolds said many of those visitors come from large metropolitan areas to escape the fast-paced city life and enjoy the more laid-back rural lifestyle of a community like Barlow.
"This is almost like a reunion for the community," he added, noting that many people who have moved away return each year to attend the Barlow Fair.
Bob's wife, Leslie, hasn't missed a Barlow Fair for 40 years.
"We come rain or shine," she said. "Our son, Derek, was born 31 years ago on the Monday following the fair."
In fact, Bob said the family celebrated Derek's birthday at the fair this year.
Sunday's big event at the Barlow Fair was the tractor Tug Pull where area farmers tether their tractors to a sled to see how far they can drag loads ranging from 9,500 pounds to 13,000 pounds.
"Chicken" Pugh, 80, has been the official tractor pull announcer at the Barlow Fair for years.
"I guess I've been doing this since 1954," he said. "And the good Lord willing I'll be back here again next year."
Pugh noted Jim Sampson, 81, of Waterford, has been participating in the annual tractor pull for 62 years now.
"He's been doing this for a long time and he's the best," Pugh added.
Sampson began competing in tractor pulls in 1949, and only missed one year to serve his country during the Korean War.
Just down the hill from the Tug Pull, 15 youngsters were getting weighed in for the annual Barlow Fair pedal tractor pull.
Jared Stemple, of Barlow, brought his two daughters, Jilliann, 7, and Mya, 4.
"This is the first time for both of them," Jared said. "They don't have pedal tractors, but they have been practicing on their tricycles."
The pedal tractor pull is organized and sponsored each year by the Waterford Future Farmers of America.