MERCER – The 55th annual Mercer County Grange Fair starts today, and a few new features await visitors.

“It’s a family fair where people can bring their kids. It’s just good for the community,” said Ginny Steese Richardson.

She is secretary of the fair board and has been helping organize the event for more than 40 years.

The fair is held through Saturday, July 13, at the fairgrounds on state Route 58 in Findley Township just outside of Mercer.

Like previous years, admission to the fair itself is free. Ride tickets and food will be sold, and a church youth group overseeing the parking lot will accept donations.

The event offers exhibits, animals, contests, games, tractor pulls, music, and more.

While the fairgrounds are bit wet in spots because of heavy rainfall, Richardson said that planning has gone smoothly thanks to volunteers who include people earning community service hours.

“We really couldn’t do it without them,” she said.

Lunch and dinner will be sold most days at the kitchen building, which was recently remodeled. People look forward to those meals because most of the food is made from scratch, she said.

New for kids this year are children’s tractor pulls, and drag racing with Power Wheels.

Richardson’s favorite part of the fair is the exhibit building because it’s an opportunity for area residents to show off their hard work.

There are two new exhibit contests this year – people can plant a garden in a wheelbarrow or kid’s wagon, and folks can use “junk” to decorate a bucket or can.

“It’s just something different,” she said.

She reminds fair-goers that the general public is welcome to submit exhibit entries.

The fair schedule includes:

Today, July 6

• 9 a.m. – Horse show in the horse show ring.

Sunday, July 7

• 2 p.m. – Pony pulls on the track.

• 2 to 5 p.m. – Entry day for exhibit building.

• 4 to 8 p.m. – A hot roast beef sandwich meal will be sold at the kitchen building for $8.

• 4:30 p.m. – Guys and Dolls Pageant at the commercial exhibit building.

• 6 p.m. – Vespers in the commercial exhibit building.

Monday, July 8

• 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. – Entry day for rabbits at the rabbit barn.

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Lunch will be sold at the kitchen building.

• 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. – Animal entries in the barn.

• Noon to 8 p.m. – Entries in the exhibit building.

• 4 to 8 p.m. – A pot roast dinner will be sold at the kitchen building for $10.

• 6 p.m. – Tractor weigh-on followed by garden tractor pull at 7 p.m. on the track. Tickets are $5 for the grandstand, and $10 for the pit.

• 7 p.m. – Entertainment by Johnny Oakes in the commercial exhibit building.

Tuesday, July 9

• 9 a.m. – Judging of entries in exhibit building starts.

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Chicken and biscuits and sandwiches will be sold for lunch at the kitchen building.

• 4 to 8 p.m. – Chicken and biscuits will be sold at the kitchen building for dinner for $10.

• 5 p.m. – Exhibit building and rides open to the public.

• 6 p.m. – Family games at the track.

• 7 p.m. – Pedal tractor pull and Power Wheels drag racing at the track.

• 7 p.m. – Lenape dancers perform in the commercial exhibit building.

Wednesday, July 10

• 9 a.m. – Youth show followed by ARBA-sanctioned rabbit show, and mini horse, mini mule, mini donkey, goat and poultry show.

• 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. – Lunch will be sold at the kitchen building.

• 3 to 8 p.m. – Spaghetti and meatballs will be sold at the kitchen building for dinner for $10.

• 5 p.m. – Exhibit building and rides open to the public.

• 7 p.m. – The worship team from the First Church of God in Kittanning performs in the commercial exhibit building.

• 7 p.m. – The Keystone Mini Pullers event will be held at the track, featuring stock farm tractors, mini rods, and antique tractors. Grandstand tickets are $5, and pit tickets are $10.

Thursday, July 11

• 9 a.m. – Dairy cow show followed by beef cattle show.

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Lunch will be sold at the kitchen building.

• 2 to 7:15 p.m. – Senior Day activities at the commercial exhibit building.

• 4 to 8 p.m. – A traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be sold at the kitchen building for $10.

• 5 p.m. – Exhibit building and rides open to the public.

• 6 p.m. – Pet parade.

• 6 p.m. – Weigh-in for truck and tractor pull followed by the Northwest Truck and Tractor Pullers Association event at 7 p.m. at the track. Grandstand tickets are $8, and pit tickets are $20.

• 7 p.m. – Chuck Thorpe and Friends performs in the commercial exhibit building.

Friday, July 12

• 9 a.m. – Sheep show followed by swine show.

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Lunch will be sold at the kitchen building.

• 4 to 8 p.m. – A ham and parsley potatoes dinner will be sold at the kitchen building for $10.

• 5 p.m. – Exhibit building and rides open to the public.

• 6 p.m. – Goat milking contest.

• 6 p.m. – Weigh-in for truck and tractor pull followed by the Northwest Truck and Tractor Pullers Association event at 7 p.m. at the track. Grandstand tickets are $8, and pit tickets are $20.

• 7 p.m. – Lenape dancers perform at the commercial exhibit building.

Saturday, July 13

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Lunch will be sold at the kitchen building.

• 4 to 8 p.m. – A braised steak dinner will be sold at the kitchen building for $10.

• 5 p.m. – Exhibit building and rides open to the public.

• 6:30 p.m. – Kids’ Power Wheels race.

• 7 p.m. – Midnight Blue performs at the commercial exhibit building.

• 7 p.m. – Derby Dog Productions presents a demolition derby on the track. Grandstand tickets are $10, and pit tickets are $20. Fireworks by Shiloh Ministries will follow.

These contests are being held at the fair; entries can be dropped off at the fairgrounds from 2 to 5 p.m. July 7 or noon to 8 p.m. July 8:

The Pennsylvania Preferred Junior Baking Cookies–Brownies–Bars Contest is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s PA Preferred program and coordinated by the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs, or PSACF.

Participants must be amateur bakers ages 8 through 18 and Pennsylvania residents. Entries must include two PA Preferred ingredients, which can be found at papreferred.com

This is a preliminary competition that leads to the selection of the final PA Preferred Junior Baking Contest held in January at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.

The Homemade Chocolate Cake Contest is sponsored by PSACF. Participants must be amateur bakers and Pennsylvania residents.

Entries must be a chocolate layer cake made from scratch with frosting. Chocolate or cocoa must be the main ingredients. This contest also leads to the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The Incredible Angel Food Cake Contest is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Egg Farmers and PSACF. Cakes must be made from scratch and must use eggs from Pennsylvania.

The Blue Ribbon Apple Pie Contest is sponsored by PSACF. This also leads to Harrisburg, and participants must be state residents.

You cannot enter if you previously won first place in this contest. Pies must contain at least 60 percent apples, and the pie pan must be disposable.

Keep in mind that there is no refrigeration available for contest entries at the fairgrounds. Entries that must be kept cold will not be sold, auctioned or distributed for consumption after judging, which will be held on July 9.

FOR more information about the Mercer County Grange Fair, visit www.mercercountygrangefair.net or call Ginny Steese Richardson at 724-967-4007.