LIMA — If you thought the crowds at the Allen County Fair were big, then you should check out Max’s Trader Days and Water Dog Races at the fairgrounds through Sunday.
Thousands of people and hundreds of vendors were selling anything from confederate flags to AR-15s, and you could even pick up a puppy or a chicken if you so desired. The roads in the fairgrounds were packed with golf carts, making walking a bit hazardous, so keep an eye out for traffic.
“This is the biggest and the best and the weather has been nice. We’ve got more people, more vendors, more shoppers. I didn’t think it could get any bigger, but it did,” said organizer Max McClure.
The event has even outgrown the Allen County Fairgrounds.
“We quit selling [vendor and camping space] five days ago because we was booked solid. We don’t have nowhere to grow, real estate wise. We got the highways on both sides and the cemetery and Walmart. We can only use as big as the fairground is and there’s no place else to go with it, we’re going to start double stacking ’em,” said McClure with a chuckle.
Besides the many vendors, people came out to see the dog races.
The pros raced Friday night and Saturday night, but McClure decided to hold the Hound Dog Races, where anybody could pluck down $10 and have their dog race across the Rouschman Park pond.
Gary Bendele, from Kalida, brought out his bird dog, Zoe, to see if she has what it takes to race with the big dogs.
“She’s a great swimmer. She’s never competed before. She’s only nine months old, but my boy decided — he’s racing cross country today — but he wanted to take a dog out here, and he measured the pond and timed the dogs, and she was competitive with any of these dogs. But we don’t know if she’ll jump out of the box and do what she is supposed to,” said Bendele.
McClure was perplexed as to why there were only a few entries for the Hound Dog Race.
“We actually had it last year, but we’re a little disappointed right now that we only had three dogs come out. We’ve got a lot of people here that want to see it, but we don’t have the dogs, and I’m very disappointed about that,” said McClure.
Since there were only three dogs participating — Sunny Boy, Papa Smurf, and Zoe — the winner would receive $30.
Unfortunately, when the gates opened, Zoe took one look at the pond and turned around until she was pushed in by one of Bendele’s daughters. But Zoe wasn’t having any of that and scampered up the pond’s banks, apparently not quite ready to run with the big dogs.
Sunny Boy finished first and took home the $30 prize and the first place trophy.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.