MARIETTA - Crowds gathered on Saturday to celebrate the opening day of the 194th Washington County Labor Day Fair.
"It's tradition," said Melissa Wyatt, of Marietta. "I never miss the parade or the fair, no matter what the weather is doing."
Wyatt stood in front of Twisted Sister on Front Street in the rain Saturday as she watched the fair parade with her mother, Terri Wyatt, and 4-year-old son John.
Photo by Jolene Craig
A crowd gathers Saturday as four miniature pot-bellied pigs swim to the finish line at Chases Racing Pigs course next to the Junior Fair Building at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Marietta.
"Besides, John now has more candy than he knows what to do with," she added with a laugh as she held up two filled grocery bags.
The rain let up and allowed for those who attended the fair on Saturday afternoon to enjoy the sun and warm temperatures, which reached the mid 80s. A fair employee said the crowd started out a little smaller because of the morning showers.
"Since the sun came out, I'm sure it will pick up and we will be very busy later on," he said. "But, really, I've been here long enough to know that no matter what you expect, something else will always happen."
The Washington County Fair Schedule includes:
* 9 a.m.: Worship service in the old sheep pavilion
* 10 a.m.: Small Tractor Tug Pull in the Rabbit/Poultry building
* Noon: Harness Racing
* 1 p.m.: Midway opens
* 5 p.m.: Coin hunt for ages 12 and under in the Civitan Park
* 6 p.m.: Waterford FFA Alumni Pedal Tractor Pull in Civitan Park
* 7:30 p.m.: Buckeye Rodeo in the Grandstands
* 9 a.m.: Pony Pull in the Grandstands; Antique Tractor Tug Pull in the Infield of the track
* Noon: Midway opens; Draft Horse Pull in the Grandstands
* Noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.: Chases Racing Pigs next to the Junior Fair Building
* 1-7 p.m.: Election of Fair Board Directors in the Home Arts Building
* 3:30 p.m.: Junior Fair Small Animal Sale in the Rabbit/Poultry Tent
* 7:30 p.m.: Mini Monster Trucks in the Grandstands
* 8:30 p.m.: Cledus T. Judd in Civitan Park
* 4 p.m.: Midway opens
* 6 p.m.: Junior Fair Large Animal Sale in the Cattle Arena
* 7 p.m.: Demolition Derby in the Grandstands
The National Weather Service in Charleston is calling for a 60 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms are likely today and Monday. Tuesday might be the best day of the fair, according to the forecast, with partly sunny skies and a high of 75.
Because of the high humidity in the high 80s that contributed to the warm temperatures, many of the rabbits and poultry in the rabbit and poultry tents had some sort of ice in their cages on Saturday. Many of the smaller animals, mostly chickens, were laying against or on bags of ice or frozen bottles of water to ward of health issues from the heat.
In 2011, the heat index reached above 100 degrees and many animals became ill while a number of chickens died. Since then, the teenagers who raise them have taken precautions.
One group of animals that did not have any problems with the weather on Saturday were the racing pigs.
Throughout the day, crowds of all ages gathered around a small race track set up beside the Junior Fair Building to watch Chases Racing Pigs.
"This is the neatest thing," said Lydia Donnelly, of Marietta. "It was cute. It was fun and it was certainly different."
Before each race, one individual from the crowd was chosen to root for one of the pigs racing with the loudest and most enthusiastic of the four cheerleaders being given a prize.
"It's our way of getting kids involved," said Pamela Chase of Chases Racing Pigs. "They seem to have a good time cheering and screaming for a pig to win."
This was the second year for the Lake City, Fla., company owned by Pamela and Ed Chase, to be a part of the local fair in Marietta.
"We have had a lot of people come up to us and say they missed us last year and were happy we are back," Chase added. "We're happy to provide family-friendly and unique entertainment."
Each of the three daily scheduled races includes three smaller events - two foot races and one swimming race for the four miniature pot-bellied pigs.
"Most people don't know that pigs love to swim, so we thought it would make a fun show," Chase said. "Pigs are cute, smart and friendly animals and people love to see something new and different."