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If you go
What: Allen County Fair
Where: Allen County Fairgrounds, 2726 Carroll Road
When: Tuesday through July 29; opening and closing times vary by day
Admission: $5 for adults, free for children 5 and younger; Wednesday, discounted for patrons 55 and older; July 29, free for all
For more information:
File photo
Llamas like Silver, led by Chad Drudge at last year’s fair, are among the critters that citified fairgoers get to see up close.

Allen County Fair its own furry beast

The Allen County Fair starts Tuesday and the Three Rivers Festival ends Saturday, but the latter still casts a long shadow over the former.

The Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival commands so much attention in the region at this time of year that the Allen County Fair can get crowded out.

“I definitively think we’re one of best-kept secrets out there,” says Michelle Love, a spokesperson for the fair. “I think some people don’t even realize we exist. We don’t have the marketing budget of the Three Rivers Festival.”

The two events may have a month in common, but that’s about it, Love says.

“They are very different types of events,” she says. “When people attend the Allen County Fair, they get something they’re not going to get from the Three Rivers Festival.”

Some of this something is supplied by numerous representatives of the animal kingdom, such as rabbits, chickens, roosters, ducks, cows, bulls, goats, donkeys, horses and llamas.

Love says a couple of those aforementioned animals will be ridden as part of a recently resurrected rodeo (Hint: It’s not the chickens).

Away from the barns and pens, however, other exciting non-farm-animal stuff is happening.

For example, archery tag.

Archery tag is a lot like laser tag, only it’s a lot better because it allows you to do something your mother told you never to do (even though you’d seen upstanding characters like Robin Hood and Cupid do it): Shoot arrows at people.

The deadly force of the arrows has been tamed using “big foam marshmallows” at the end of each, Love says. Players will be well padded and face-masked.

If archery tag isn’t your cup of peril, how about a monster truck ride?

Most people have had considerable experience with monster trucks, but few people have actually ridden in one.

For $5, you will be allowed to climb up into the cab of American Thunder.

Be aware that estimates of climbing time should not be based on how long it takes for you to get into your Kia Rio.

Kids’ Day returns Thursday, Love says, with a straw maze, animal rides, $10 carnival wristbands and contests devoted to cookie-stacking and pizza-eating.

Cookie-stacking is about “how high you can get them up,” Love says, and pizza-eating is about “how much you can get gone.”

Bold children can meet playful adults in the middle at such events as a 4x4 truck pull July 27 and a demolition derby July 28.

You don’t have a drive a car to smash one, though.

An event called Smash Car on July 28 may be your one and only chance in this life to take a sledgehammer to a junker without fear of reprisal.

Even with this plethora of activities, the Allen Country Fair is one of the more affordable summer events in the area, Love says.

“Five dollars gets you in the gate, and 90 percent of the events are free,” she says.

Love believes the fair may be the only annual opportunity that some area kids get to interact with farm animals, Love says.

“They get to see where milk comes from,” she says. “So many kids think milk comes from the grocery store.”