LIMA — A morning of rain and dark clouds threatening didn’t discourage the last-minute preparations for the Allen County Fair Friday.
“There’s not much you can do,” said Ron Rohrbach, owner of the western-themed Riverside Acres Tack Shop of St. Marys, as he waited to see what the weather was going to do before putting out his merchandise. “You just have to suck up and eat it.”
Rohrbach has been a vendor at the Allen County Fair for 52 years now and is no stranger to waiting out rough weather, he said. He, and his wife, have a vendor booth at the Auglaize, Mercer and Van Wert county fairs as well each year.
He said they started paying for a vendor spot at the fairs because, “We just started the business and we needed the revenue and advertisement, and I thought this would be a good thing to do.”
While they don’t make nearly as much money at fairs as they do in the St. Marys storefront, the advertising makes it all worth while, Rohrbach said.
Harriet Whetstone, of Buckland, was also preparing her small business for the fair grand opening by brushing her ponies for Shiny Lil Pony Ride LLC.
“This fair is the culmination of the entire year,” she said. “This is the biggest event and weekend we do.”
She has 17 ponies, with a dozen of them working at fairs. Some are at the Allen County Fair and another bunch are at the Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival. Whetstone said rain doesn’t discourage children from getting rides because she sets up a tent during the two fairs she works each year, Allen and Auglaize counties.
Whetstone said she looks forward to the fair because she enjoys seeing how happy children are when riding.
Michelle Clay, of Ada, and her sons, Darrick, 15, and Dawson, 12, were so focused on their horses they didn’t seem phased by the prospect of rain. Dawson Clay lugged two bags filled with hay up to their two horses’ stalls and grabbed two pails to fill with water while Darrick and Michelle Clay began feeding the animals. They said the Allen County Fair is something they all look forward to.
“It’s something my boys can work toward during the summer rather then sitting inside playing video games and stuff,” Michelle Clay said. “I like having the opportunity for my two horses to be used, shown and be involved in the fair.”
Rain doesn’t stop fairgoers from getting food or enjoying the rides, said Maggie Stanton, of Milton, Indiana, a food vendor employee with Poor Jack Amusements.
“People will be out here regardless,” she said. “Sometimes it will increase my sales because they’re standing here under the awning and they’ll keep getting food.”
Meteorologist Dave Samuhel, with Accuweather, said there’s a possibility for a rain shower early today but it should be sunny with a high temperature of 80 degrees. Expect humidity in the afternoon and evening. Sunday will not be as humid and should be sunny with a high of 81 or 82 degrees, Samuhel said.
The fair continues through Aug. 25.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362