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Horse racing at the 2013 Van Wert County Fair
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Thursday, August 29, 2013 5:19 PM

VAN WERT – All 156 previous Van Wert County Fairs have included horses on display or racing in some manner. The first fair in 1855 had an improvised race around a path with horses belonging to those in attendance. So what type of racing will there be at the 2013 Van Wert County Fair?

On Monday, Labor Day, at 1 p.m., the Fair's Derby Day, the running races take place. Thoroughbred and Quarter horse breeds comprise the running races. On both Wednesday, opening day and Thursday, Kids Day, the Harness Races take place at 7 p.m., with Standardbred horses. These descriptions can be a bit confusing for someone who has never been to a horse race or is not familiar with horse racing lingo.

Harness Racing is a horse pulling a sulky (cart) with a driver. Running races are horses with a jockey. The Van Wert County Fair is unique in offering both types of races during the fair. Van Wert has a very unique place in the State of Ohio as it is the only county fair that holds running races. Something very special at Van Wert County's fair!

This year Van Wert County's Derby Day on Monday, Sept. 2, has been designated “Ladies Hat Day” at the Fair. Ladies are encouraged to attend the running races and wear a “Kentucky Derby style” hat. The local group of ladies who wear red and purple hats, seen around Van Wert County at various events, will be promenading into the grandstand before race time to show off their particular style of hat for the crowd. Who will have the best hat in the grandstand? Try the running races and be part of the excitement!

With the fair opening on Wednesday it is a good day to enjoy your favorite fair food and then head to the harness races at 7 p.m. The first night has filly (female horse) harness racing. The second night on Thursday has colt (male horse) harness racing. The harness races alternate between trot and pace standardbred horses. This describes the gait of the horse or how a horse's legs move.

The harness races and thoroughbred & quarter horse races (running races on Derby Day) both have betting available. This is the only time betting is allowed during a County Fair in Ohio. Give it a try too! Or if that is a bit too much for your outing, just practice slipping in some horse lingo terms while chatting with your friends or family.