By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
IT'S APPROPRIATE THAT THE Columbiana County fair office is housed in a former train station.
Monday's bustle in and around the period building was remindful of the structure's past as a place of comings and goings.
Outside, a teenage girl clutched a leash to which a small goat was tethered.
Inside, the former depot was packed with people arriving regularly to buy passes for the week and tickets for the grandstand entertainment.
Terri Hunter, now in her eighth season as fair manager, seemed pleased with the activity.
Interest in passes and advance tickets portends a favorable week ahead. Hunter said she's hopeful that the fair will have had 55,000 visitors by the time it closes Sunday night.
Last year's attendance figure was 43,000.
The fair opened this weekend in limited fashion with tractor pulls Saturday and Sunday. But much of the activity so far has centered on preparing for the rest of the week. The fair schedule begins in earnest today.At midday Monday, vendors were still setting up concession stands, and people who are displaying animals were hauling them in.
Hunter hailed an assistant on a walkie-talkie and asked how many animals were arriving. "Too many," the frazzled assistant transmitted back.
Nearly 300 dairy animals alone were expected to turn up Monday. Nondairy animals would bump up the count by dozens more.
Hunter said she wants the public to know that this year's fair will feature more rides for adults, including a Ferris wheel. Rides will be less expensive, too.
The fair board is going with a different ride provider this season. Rides will be $1 each, for adults and children. Last year, they were $3 per ride.
Weekend storms that lashed the area had virtually no effect on the fair preparations, said Hunter, who noted she's carefully monitoring the forecast.
"The heat affects us more than rain," she said. "If it's hot, the elderly people don't come. There's no way to get out of the heat."
Forecasts call for temperatures in the 80s this week. "That's perfect weather," Hunter said.