Harness racing highlights the annual fair in Jackson County, and the Southern Ohio Colt Circuit will be in town for two nights of entertainment on Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m.

The weekend of Harness racing entertainment represents the start of the 2020 Jackson County Fair.

The 2020 edition of the Jackson County Fair, however, won’t be your standard fair this year, but there will be more than organizers anticipated two months ago. That’s because the Fair Board, back on May 14, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, decided there would be no Senior Fair, which included rides on the midway, as well as commercial vendors, booths, and grandstand entertainment. It was also announced that the Junior Fair would take place but in a prescribed format.

However, new and revised orders from Governor DeWine and the state health director decided to permit fairs to conduct more activities, and the fair will include some of the Senior Fair grandstand events, including Harness racing, Fast Trax Motocross, and the demolition derby.

Fair Board member Chris Walls said the number of races on Thursday and Friday is yet to be determined.

“At this time, we do not know how many races we will have. They are not due to call in until Tuesday at noon for Thursday’s races, and Wednesday at noon for Friday’s races,” Walls said.

Walls said they would follow social distancing guidelines; therefore, the seating in the grandstands will be marked.

“Families can sit together, but we are going to go by the Ohio Department of Health guidance, and we will observe social distancing guidelines,” said Walls.

He also said if people do not want to sit in the grandstands, they are welcome to bring lawn chairs and sit around the track.

As always, there will be pari-mutuel wagering available for race fans. Walls said there would be tellers, who will take bets outside the grandstand.

On Friday night, the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association will be at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, Facebooking live from the track.

“This is the first year, they are going around to the fair circuit, and at least one night, they will attend each fair and do it live on Facebook,” said Walls.

Originally, signature races were scheduled for this year’s event, but a $4,000 cost forced it to be canceled.

“In special races, at the end of the year, the top horses get to race in the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, and that is the minimum purse they can race for,” said Walls.

Walls said the board would file for a grant in the fall, and if they get it, unique races, such as the signature races, would be paid for by the state.

Admission to enter the fairgrounds will be $5 per person, and programs will be available for $3.

The Jackson County 4-H Advisory Council will also have a food booth set up at the grandstand both nights, while Gabby’s Pizza will have a booth on the opposite side by the race barns.