LIMA — Whether you enjoy woodcarving, seeing wolves perform in front of your eyes, or witnessing acrobats fly through the air at incredible heights, the 2017 Allen County Fair had it all covered.
This year’s fair offered an abundance of free entertainment throughout the grounds, giving families an opportunity to have some fun without breaking the bank.
Wolves of the World, which performed for the first time at the Allen County Fair, featured an educational piece and a “wolf discovery zone” where people could see the animals up close, as well as performances meant to show the wolves’ natural behaviors.
The show’s proprietor, Sharon Sandlofer, began the show by asking the audience if they were ready to “enter the wolf pack.” Before the wolves entered the show arena, Sandlofer said that the animals are an important part of the ecosystem, and that they are often misunderstood because of stories such as “The Three Little Pigs,” which give the impression that wolves are “big and bad.” She hoped the show would change people’s negative perceptions about the creatures.
Once the wolves entered the show arena, they performed natural behaviors that showcased their agility, their sense of focus and their hunting skills. Using props, the wolves climbed onto barrels and rolled around, jumped onto platforms, leapt high in the air to catch pieces of meat, and ran up and down ramps.
Around 75 people turned out for the 1:30 p.m. Wednesday show, including Lima resident Kim Lane. Lane said she was impressed with the show, and that she enjoyed seeing someone so passionate about animals.
“I got a little choked up seeing them because they’re such amazing creatures,” said Lane, who was with her 6-year-old son, Donny, and his friend, Ben Slechter. “The woman doing the show, you could tell she deeply loves them and I think that’s what got me. To see her share her passion for conservation and the animals, and seeing the excitement on everyone’s faces, it was really exciting for me.
“It was a really well-done show.”
Ben said he enjoyed all aspects of the show, from the educational portion to the performance.
“My impression was this was a very great show,” Ben said. “I did like seeing them perform their tricks, but it was also pretty cool just to see them up close.”
Not far away from the Wolves of the World show was a wood-carving demonstration by Joe Stebbing of Bear Hollow Wood Carvers. Stebbing started with a bare piece of wood, and 40 minutes later he turned it into an owl statue that will be auctioned off at the fair.
Using two types of chain saws, Stebbing carved an outline of the owl and worked his way from top to bottom to create a likeness of the animal. Once the owl’s shape was created, he painted the wood to make it look more realistic. He put the finishing touches on the creation by blow torching the wood and using an air blower to remove access debris.
Lima resident Sandy Kelly was one of a few people who stayed around to watch the demonstration from start to finish.
“I think it’s great,” Kelly said. “I come every year to watch them.”
Kelly added she was fascinated by the wood carver’s ability to turn a bare piece of wood into a work of art.
“When he starts out you think, ‘what’s he gonna do with that piece of wood?’ And then he makes something like this,” she said. “I enjoyed it very much.”
Farther down the Fairgrounds near the Midway, the Flying Pages performed a trapeze act that was reminiscent of a circus performance. The performance included a three-point aerial acrobatic routine, as well as a comedy act.
Performers used a pedestal board as a starting point, and then a flyer swung on a trapeze, was released in mid-air, performed an aerial maneuver such as a somersault or twisting layout, and then was caught by a catcher who was swinging on another trapeze. Upon completion, the flyer returned to the fly bar and landed back on the pedestal board. Each sequence had to be timed perfectly for the routine to work.
More than 100 people turned out for the 5:30 p.m. show, where on-lookers gasped in amazement and roared with applause when the acrobats landed safely back on the platform.
Other free events at this year’s fair included Jungle Island Zoo, a glass blowing demonstration, magic acts, laser tag and more.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.