JEFFERSON — Only a few brave folks gambled on whether Wednesday’s heavy rains and thunder clouds would clear long enough to make it worth a trip to Family Day at the Ashtabula County Fair. A noontime downpour turned the midway into a raging river and the grounds of the fair slightly muddy.

By early afternoon the sun peeked out and the rides were filled with youngsters. 

“I came to ride the Sea Ray,” said Lillian Gage, 8, of Rome Township. “It gives me tummy tickles.”

The carousel, Bounce Houses and other tame rides were for the youngest while older and braver kids rocked back in forth 40 feet above the ground on the Sea Ray.

Aliyah Glover, 8, of Jefferson, said it was her first time on the Sea Ray, but “it was good.”

When the heavy rain arrived, Ashtabula resident Cathy Furman ducked under the porch at the Plymouth Grange with her great-grandchildren. 

“Rain, rain, go away,” she said. “We want to have a day with the great-grandkids.”

Children, parents and grandparents watched from inside barns and anything that supplied cover from the wind and rain. Umbrellas were a necessity as the day progressed and an occasional shower passed by.

The rain stopped just long enough in the afternoon for the egg and spoon races. About 25 children participated with Gianna Veri, 7, of Jefferson taking the championship. When asked her secret to success, she said, “Concentration. And, my balance is good because I’m in gymnastics.”

Fair Board member Doug Jones said he was surprised when no one dropped an egg in the first round. In fact, it took several rounds before a winner emerged.

“This group is too good,” he said.

Wednesday, with children ages 14 and younger getting free admission, is one of the most active days for the fair, but Fair Board Secretary/Treasurer Darla Vargo worried the weather would keep families away.

Rain and severe thunderstorms shut down Tuesday evening’s Junior Fair parade, meaning hundreds of children and their parents did not attend the fair. That affected attendance, with only a total of 1,365 people paying at the gates, compared to 2,911 last year, she said.

“It’s suppose to be a nice weekend,” she said. “Hopefully, people will come out to the fair.”

Friday night entertainment includes a rodeo; Saturday night there’s a demolition derby and Sunday, modified truck and tractor pulls.

The fair continues through Sunday night.

Shelley Terry is a reporter for the Star Beacon. Follow her on Twitter @sterry_sb.