Photos by Kelsey Leyva | Wellington Enterprise
Pam and Dennis Leonard pose with their food truck after their first fair week.
Record attendance was set this year as more than 28,000 people paid Saturday to enter the Lorain County Fairgrounds.
Throughout the week more than 125,000 people visited Wellington to see the shows, pet the animals, and taste the deep-fried fair food.
Fair board president Kim Meyers said the week went smoothly despite the slow start. He thinks attendance would have easily topped 2014 numbers if it weren’t for most schools starting back up the same week.
A fireworks show — the first in a decade — went off without a hitch last Monday.
Meyers said animals didn’t seem too bothered by the big bangs and the only horses who had issues were the ones being ridden at the time of the show. He said it’s likely the fireworks will return in 2016.
First-time fair vendors Pam and Dennis Leonard of Seville, Ohio, said they enjoyed the week and are already planning to pay their dues for next year.
“It’s big, busy, clean, and the people are great,” Pam said.
The only drawback for the couple running The Food Trailer was they weren’t able to get out and walk around much. Pam said she plans to change that next year.
Another person who spent all seven days at the fair is Lexi Wilson, 13, of Grafton.
She and her alpaca, Little Miss Sunshine, competed in showmanship and type classes. Wilson said the end of fair is always bittersweet.
“It’s sad because I like showing animals and eating the fair food,” she said. “It was a fun summer.”
One of the few hangups during the seven-day event was a protest by Lorain County Democrats, who decided to close their booth because vendors were selling Confederate flags.
Meyers said county Democratic Party chairman Anthony Giardini removed the booth’s banner and contents on Thursday. The issue started after county commissioner Matt Lundy criticized the fair board Wednesday in a public meeting for allowing vendors to sell the Confederate flag.
Meyers didn’t know about the county chairman’s decision to close the booth until after it happened.
“We were disappointed there was no forewarning or contact,” said. “We felt blindsided by it.”
Despite Giardini’s decision to close the booth, Meyers said Democratic candidates still showed up to talk to fairgoers and pass out literature for their campaigns.
Meyers said several people approached him at the fair to voice their support of the fair board’s decision to allow vendors to sell what they want and for upholding the First Amendment.
“We support free speech and respect everyone’s right to believe what they want to believe,” he said.
Kelsey Leyva can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @TWE_KelseyLeyva on Twitter.