the bistro off broadway
Harness racing has long been a fixture at the Darke County Fair. With the Gene Riegle Memorial and
the Arnie Almahurst Trot, the fair has been named as a top three finalist for the Blue Ribbon Award as
the best country fair in the United States. CNO Photo by George Starks
Darke County Fair a possible Blue Ribbon Fair
By George Starks

GREENVILLE- The Great Darke County fair has been named as a finalist in the country as a Blue Ribbon Fair.

T. J. Burkett, Executive Editor of Hoof Beats magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Trotting Association, the official governing body of all county fairs all over the United States, was in attendance Friday to see firsthand what the county fair does to promote harness racing.

“There are over 300 county fairs in the country,” said Burkett. “Each year, the Trotting Association picks one fair out of all the fairs in the country to be a USTA blue ribbon award winner. This year, it was decided the fair here in Greenville, Ohio was a finalist. There are three finalist each year and we visit the three fairs to see what they do to promote harness racing to the general public and what do they do for the public with events and promotions they have. How are they promoting harness racing to the general public because that’s what we care about? In December, we will announce the winner of the Blue Ribbon fair award. Of which Greenville is a finalist. If Greenville wins, there will be a feature article in the 2018 edition of Hoof Beats magazine. The USTA picks it and whichever fair gets it, they are deemed the best fair in the United States. ”

Friday, the annual Gene Riegle Memorial and the Arnie Almahurst Trot was the focus of the night. To the first 1,000 fans, with a paid program, was a memorial glass. The annual event is huge for Darke County harness racing and Friday was proof that the sport is alive and well in the county.

“I’ve talked to about two dozen people tonight and they all said they love coming to this and they love the atmosphere,” said Burkett. “Rarely do you have crowds this large at any county fair anywhere in the country and that’s a testament to the show they are putting on. They are bringing in the best horses they can possibly get for the Gene Riegle Memorial and the Arnie Almahurst. And that is a big draw.”

With the horses being some of the best around, Burkett acknowledged other things that caught his eye.

“This is a great track and the horseman love to come here,” Burkett stated. “They gave away the glasses and when we first got here, there were 50 people in line waiting to get a glass. That was at four o’clock and the races didn’t start until 5:30 so that shows the enthusiasm of the people wanting to be a part of this event. That was amazing to me. I’ve been visiting fairs as a part of this for 10 years now.”

So what was Burkett’s overall impressions?

“This is one of the best county fairs I’ve ever been to. They do a lot of hard work and they promote the fair all year round. When people come here, they’re getting an experience they’re not getting anywhere else,” Burkett said in conclusion.

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