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Fan Guide

Grassroots Racing

Fair Racing
Fair Racing
In the early days of harness racing, county fairs provided an ideal venue for friends and neighbors to race their horses against one another. In a more agrarian time, when the fair was the highlight of the summer, people would bring their fastest road horse for racing just as they brought their prize livestock or produce for judging.

As time has passed, county and state fair harness racing has remained. More than 200 fairs in 22 states host harness racing, giving novice horses and horsemen a chance to get some racing experience before heading to the bright lights and fast pace of a pari-mutuel racetrack.

While many fair races are designed with beginners in mind, there are also several Grand Circuit races that take place at prominent fairgrounds around the country. The Grand Circuit is like a Major League of racing that moves from track to track.

Each year the Du Quoin State Fair in Du Quoin, Ill. hosts some of the biggest races on the Grand Circuit, including the World Trotting Derby. The Hambletonian was held at Du Quoin from 1957- 1980. Many of the top drivers and trainers from around the world compete at Du Quoin, so, unlike many of the traditional fair races, this is no place for beginners.

Other notable fairs include the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, Ind., which hosts three Grand Circuit events: the Horseman Stakes, the Hoosier Stakes and the Fox Stakes, and the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, Ill., which is known for its fast track where many racing records have been set.

A trip to watch county fair racing is a heartwarming, wholesome experience that shouldn’t be missed. For more information on fairs in your area, visit http://fairs.ustrotting.com.

Fair Tradition

Fair Racing If nothing else, county fairs are about celebrating tradition; a throwback to a simpler time and a natural partner for a sport as timeless as harness racing. And for many fairs, harness racing continues to be a critical part of their success.

Fair Racing
Du Quoin
State Fair
Part of what makes fair racing so popular is its accessibility. Older horses, young drivers and newer harness racing participants can all find opportunities to compete at the county fair level. Almost all of the top drivers and trainers that you see winning races on the sport’s biggest stages got their start circling a fair track with the Ferris wheel in the background.

The county fair is an experience the whole family can enjoy, both for the spectators and the participants. Nowhere can you get closer to the horses and the action, and horsemen enjoy bringing their families to enjoy a pleasant afternoon at the fair.