Find free, old-fashioned fun at the Pemberville Free Fair

Tammy Walro

        To those who say you can't get anything for free – Pemberville has been proving you wrong for decades.
        The Pemberville Free Fair does not charge an admission fee, unlike county fairs across the state and the Ohio State Fair. This year's fair will be held Aug. 16-19 off East College Avenue and Memorial Drive in the Wood County community's park.
        “How proud we all should be that for 78 years we have been able to keep the Pemberville Free Fair free!” Kelli Bohland, fair president, said in a message on the fair website.
        “We could not make this happen year after year without our dedicated (fair) board members, committee chairmen, volunteers, community members and sponsors,” Bohland said.
        The 2023 fair – which will kick off Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. in downtown Pemberville – will feature the usual farm components, including competitions for cattle and other animals as well as judging for vegetables, baked goods, needlework, artwork, collections, photography and more.
        There will also be lots of kid- and family-friendly events, many of them staples at the fair for years, such as the tug-of-war competition and the kid tractor pull.
        And, of course, there will be the Kiddie and Grand Parades, amusement rides, and a kids’ circus and music on the stage in the Entertainment Tent.
        Family discount ride day is Thursday, Aug. 17, from 3 p.m. until closing. One ticket gets one ride and four rides are $5. Wristbands are available Aug. 16 and Aug. 18-19.
        Entertainers headlining the fair on Thursday, Aug. 17, include GLOvation Circus from 5-6:30 p.m. and the Wolf Creek Project cover band beginning at 7:30 p.m.
        On Friday, Aug. 18, Brother Believe Me band performs from 8:30-11 p.m. at the Entertainment Tent, covering a diverse song list that includes, but is not limited to, artists such as Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Poison, Michael Jackson and Shinedown.
        The lineup for the final day of the fair on Aug. 19 begins with musician Bob Stevens and his band at 5 p.m., followed by the party band Screaming Heathens at 8 p.m.
        The Grand Parade will be held Saturday, Aug. 19 at 1 p.m. beginning at the Eastwood Board of Education offices (former Pemberville School) at 120 College Ave. Eastwood High School will be the host band to area high school marching bands invited to participate. Antique vehicles, military units, Shrine units, elected officials and challengers, area fire departments; floats from churches, commercial businesses, organizations and youth groups will compete for prizes, as will marching units such as majorette corps and drill teams as they pass the main reviewing stand in downtown Pemberville.
        The Kiddie Parade featuring children’s cars, trucks, vans, tractors or wagons no larger than 8 feet by 10 feet will be held Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m. Each child must have a signed waiver prior to the parade that is available at the registration table or can be downloaded from the Free Fair website.
        Speaking of children, the Pemberville Free Fair has numerous events for children, many of them free.
        Other fair highlights include:
        • The Pemberville 5 Miler will be held Friday, Aug. 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Pemberville Fire Hall and travel through village streets, along River Road and finishing at the fair grandstand. There is a $25 race fee plus a $2.50 sign-up fee for those 19 and older and a $20 fee for those through age 18. (Note price increases begin Aug. 12.) Prizes will be awarded for winners by age group, and high school teams can compete based on how their top 5 runners finish. Run signup can be found at:   
        A mile-long Fun Run that is free to all ages will follow at about 7:45 p.m., starting near the main stage. Registration will be held from 7:15-7:30 p.m. at the corner of East College Avenue and Memorial Drive in Pemberville. Parents or guardians must sign waiver for participating children.
         • The 48th Tug-of-War competition will be held Saturday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. in the school valley. Ten participants will comprise each team competing in 5-minute pulls in these age divisions: Minor Girls, 10-17 years old; Minor Boys, 10-17 years old; Co-Ed Minor, five males, five females 10-17 years old; Adult Women, 18-50 years old; Adult Men, 18-50 years old; and Co-Ed with five males, five females (high school and older).
        • Bingo will be offered during the fair, from 7:30-10 p.m. Aug. 16, 6-10 p.m. Aug. 17, 6-11 p.m. Aug. 18 and 3-11 p.m. Aug. 19 in the Bingo Tent. One ticket per card, 25 cents per ticket or buy five tickets for $1.  
        • American Legion Freedom Post 183 will hold its cattle sale on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Calf Club Barn.
        • The Central Ohio Pony Pulling Association will hold a Pony Pulling competition Thursday, Aug. 17 beginning at 6 p.m. in the valley. There will be two height groups: 52-inch and 56-inch.
        • A chicken “plop” contest is set for 8 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Small Animal Tent. A chicken will be released inside a pen with 187 squares about 4 inches by 4 inches each. If the chicken plops on your square, you win. Squares can be purchased for $5 each or three squares for $10. Grand prize $200. To purchase a square prior to fair, contact Kelli Bohland at 419-308-3513 or email the fair at Winner need not be present.
        • A cornhole tournament for a minimum of 16 teams up to 24 teams will be held Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. at the basketball court in Pemberville Park. Registration in advance is $25 per team; $30 on the day of the event and ending at noon. Prizes are $150 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third.
        • A Cupcake Walk – essentially a version of musical chairs only with sweet treats for prizes – will be held Aug. 18 starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Entertainment Tent. The event is open to children and adults and begins with participants standing on a number. Tickets for the event, which is a fair fundraiser, cost 25 cents or five for $1.
        • A horse pull will be held Friday, Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. in the valley. Horses will compete in two classes: lightweight or 3,200 pounds and under and heavyweight over 3,200 pounds.
        • The 14th annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest will be held Wednesday, Aug. 16 on the sidewalk blocks starting at Front Street and Memorial Drive and moving toward the business district. There will be competition in six different categories: Up to and including first grade, second to fourth grade, fifth to seventh grade, eighth to 12th grade, adult and group (2 or more people). Registration forms are available at the Pemberville Library or online here. Blocks must be completed by 3 p.m. and judging starts at 3:30 p.m.
        • The Swine Scramble will be held Thursday, Aug. 17 at 1 p.m. Contestants between the ages of 6 and 15 will compete in a bid to capture pigs weighing between 30 and 40 pounds. Registration deadline is Aug. 10 and forms must be obtained at Countyline Co-op, 425 E Front St., and submitted in person at that location.
        For more information, visit


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