JEFFERSON — The 2019 Ashtabula County Fair is in full swing, with harness racing and a rodeo among the highlights of Friday’s events.

Crowds enjoying the beautiful, sunny afternoon filled the grandstand to watch a second day of harness racing. Hometown boy, trainer and a top horseman at Northfield, Clair Umholtz, delighted the crowd with his trotters — Delightful John and Honeemoon Suite. But it was sulky driver Kurt Sugg, another top horseman at Northfield, who thrilled the crowd with several wins in row.

“The Ashtabula County Fair is always my favorite fair,” Umholtz said. “I love coming home.”

Darla Vargo, secretary/treasurer of the Fair Board, also wore a smile on Friday, but it had nothing to do with horses. She thanked Mother Nature.

Thursday and Friday’s sunny skies, light breeze and temperatures in the high 70s, brought in more than 3,500 people ready to have fun at the fair after heavy rains put a damper on Tuesday and early Wednesday’s attendance.

Saybrook Township resident Emily Smith said Friday was the first time she ever saw harness racing.

“I have been to Presque Isle Downs (in Erie, Pennsylvania) but nothing like this,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Smith picked a horse named Big Bad Whamo to win in the third race, among others in all nine races, and went home with some extra pocket change, she said.

Adults weren’t the only ones enjoying equines at the fair; many youngsters took turns riding ponies at The Hitchin’ Post.

“Everyone loves ponies,” said owner Bruce Pixley of Kelloggsville. 

That certainly holds true for Tyler Reid, 3, of Ashtabula, who wore a cowboy hat while riding one of Pixley’s pinto ponies.

Pixley said he’s busy in the summer traveling to fairs in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

A large crowd filled up the MAC Arena in the early afternoon for the Small Animal Costume Contest. Goats, sheep, rabbits, turkeys and their owners all donned costumes for the popular event.

Accompanied by her goat, Lena Hanusosky, 7, of Leroy, dressed as “Heidi the goat herder,” she said. 

Sisters Riley Cottle, 12, Kaycee Saari, 14, and Miranda Saari, 9, of Jefferson, came as the Three Amigos — complete with sombreros, ponchos, black moustaches and hot pepper necklaces. They were accompanied by two sheep and one goat, wearing colorful blankets on their backs.

“We’ve been working on these costumes for months,” Miranda said.

Chase Asher, 11, of Jefferson, and his goat dressed as plumbers with their pants riding low and butt crack showing. 

Ashtabula resident, Evelyn Ruck, 9, likes to Highland dance, so she dressed the Scottish part, as did her turkey that seemed content to nibble on the bagpipe. 

 In addition, the costume contest drew cowgirls, pirates, super heroes and goats on a Hawaiian vacation.

Fair Queen First Attendant, Rachel Myers said the costumes were adorable.

“I love it,” she said. “Everyone did a great job.”

Chase garnered the top prize for his plumber costume, Hawaiian goats came in second, and the Three Amigos got third.

 In the evening, folks packed the grandstand for a rodeo with bulls, broncs and barrels in front of the grandstand.