WATERFORD – Bags gripped in hand and eyes wide at the prospect of sugar, hundreds of eager candy hunters lined Ohio 339 and Fifth Street in Beverly Friday evening in anticipation of the annual Waterford Community Fair Parade.
Lined up with his siblings and cousins in their usual shady spot just before the fairgrounds, 8-year-old Andrew Huck, of Gallipolis, explained the secret to getting a lot of candy.
“It’s at the end of the parade,” Huck said of his spot. “That’s when they’re getting to the end of the candy, so they throw all the candy out.”
Andrew’s cousin, 5-year-old Ashton Huck, of Waterford, was also excited for candy. But Ashton was also looking forward to Saturday’s tractor pull.
“Papaw is pulling his tractor. It has a hood over it and it’s a lot bigger than the little tractors,” he explained.
Plenty of people along the parade route were also anticipating seeing some familiar faces.
Maggie Hamrick, 9, of Waterford, was excited to support her brother Travis, a member of the Waterford band.
“He plays the bass drum. It weighs 23 pounds. It goes from up to here and all the way down to here,” said Hamrick, mimicking the shape of the large round drum.
Carrying the heavy drum along the mile and a half parade route-from Fort Frye High School to the fairgrounds on Ohio 339-was an impressive feat, admitted Hamrick. But candy was still the main parade draw.
“I get to see my brother every day. I don’t get this much candy every day,” she said.
Larry and Judy Mercer, of Dalzell, attended many parades when son Casey Mercer marched. But this was their second year seeing him in a new capacity.
“Our boy is the band director for Fort Frye,” explained Larry, 55.
The Mercers have not seen this year’s band members perform yet and were excited to do so for the first time along the parade route, added Judy, 51.
Also excited to see a familiar face in the parade was the Heiss family, of Waterford.
“Grandma!” exclaimed 7-year-old Lee Heiss Jr., when she rode by on a horse.
The parade is an annual tradition, explained his mother Jennifer Heiss, but the favorite part of fair weekend for Lee Jr. and little sisters Larissa, Lakyn, Taylor and Brooklynn would not happen until Saturday.
“They love the bicycle rodeo. That’s probably their favorite part,” said Jennifer.
The fair picks back up Saturday with a livestock and jackpot show starting at 8 a.m. and children’s games, including the bicycle rodeo, at 9 a.m.
Saturday’s tractor speed pulls are always a big draw, said fair board president Dennis Martin.
However, the real show stopper is the annual hog sale, he said.
“The hog sale is huge,” said Martin.
Since 1978, the community has spent nearly $2 million dollars purchasing more than 3,300 hogs at the Waterford Community Fair, said Martin.
“And that’s just the money spent on hogs. The community and the local businesses are really what makes this happen,” he said.
The fair wraps up Sunday with the Fun Horse Show at 10 a.m. and the final round of tractor pulls at 5 p.m.
Dwight Trader, of Waterford, and his family always enjoy the tractor pulls and will likely be at the fair every night, he said.
“It’s kind of the last fling of the summer,” explained Trader, a math teacher at Warren High School.