By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
INDEPENDENCE - Crashing cars, prize-winning poultry and country hams will be in abundance this week, as Northern Kentucky communities kick off the annual summer rite known as the county fair.
The 42nd annual Kenton County Fair & Horse Show will officially open Monday with carnival rides, lamb, sheep and beef shows and exhibits of the best the county has to offer in everything from cakes to quilts.
More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the fair by Saturday night's closing.
New this year are the all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) pull and the Coca-Cola Talent Show for ages 13 to 21, both on Thursday night, as well as the Sugarfoot Cloggers on Saturday night, said Tina Snelling, fair board president.
In the first event, operators of four-wheelers compete to see who can pull the most weight the farthest.
"ATVs are a little more reasonable to equip than a big truck or tractor," Snelling said. "This seems to be a growing trend at other fairs, so we thought we'd try an ATV pull this year."
The talent show awards prize money to the first three finishers and serves as a qualifying event for the Aug. 14-24 Kentucky State Fair, Snelling said.
For spectator sports, few events top Monday and Tuesday night's demolition derbies, organizers said. Some fans plan their annual vacations around the event that's billed as "the wildest show on the fairgrounds." Many arrive hours early to stake out prime viewing spots for the "legal road rage" competition featuring local drivers. Other favorites include beauty contests for infants through teens, a horse show, truck and tractor pulls and a livestock auction.
This year's opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Monday 7/14 is dedicated to the local men and women serving in the armed forces.
Other upcoming fairs include the 55th annual Grant County Fair, July 25-Aug. 2; the 71st annual Boone County 4-H & Utopia Fair, Aug. 4-9; and the 147th annual Alexandria Fair and Horse Show, an Aug. 28-Sept. 1 event that's billed as one of Kentucky's oldest county fairs. Pendleton County wrapped up its annual week-long celebration Saturday night.
With a $6 admission fee that includes all rides and parking, the local county fairs are still the best bargain around, said John Walton, the 35-year president of the Boone County Fair Board.
"We've added new attractions over the years because we're competing with places like Kings Island and Coney Island," Walton said. "But for a $6 gate fee, the fair is still the cheapest place you can go for an evening of good food and entertainment."
If you go
What: 42nd annual Kenton County Fair & Horse Show.
When: Preliminary events include today's 5:30 p.m. 4-H Dairy Show and the 6:30 p.m. 4-H Goat Show. The fair runs through Saturday. Rides run 6-11 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon-4 p.m. and 6-11 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Kenton County Fairgrounds in Independence at Taylor Mill Road (Ky. 16) and Harris Pike.
Admission: $6 includes rides and parking. Free to children 3 and under but they must purchase a $6 hand stamp to ride the rides.
Information: (859) 356-3738 or www.kentoncountyfair.org.
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