Packed parade in Barlow

BARLOW – With portions of Ohio 339 and 550 and Warrior Drive shut down, the annual Barlow Fair parade keeps RhodeSide Pizza and Subs isolated for a while – that is, if you don’t count the hundreds of people lined up right outside.

RhodeSide owner Jim Rhodes certainly does.

“We make sure we have a lot of slices ready,” Rhodes said. “As soon as the parade gets here, we go sit and watch, ’cause no one’s coming in.”

But business starts booming again once the procession makes its way through the intersection of the two state routes.

“This is our busiest weekend of the year … even with the fair going on,” Rhodes said. “Even Saturday night, we’ll stay busy.”

Among the crowd gathered not too far from Rhodes’ business Friday evening for the parade, one of the main events of the 142nd annual Barlow Fair, were Fairfield Township residents Delmar and Sandra McCallister.

“It’s the only time of year there’s any kind of crowd here at Barlow,” laughed Delmar, 75. “(The fair) brings out the best in our community.”

The McCallisters said they enjoy participating in the yearly tradition, which has caused some other traditions to spring up around it.

Bob Gorham’s house on Ohio 550 just above Warrior Drive has been the site of a reunion of family and friends for 40-plus years.

“Every Barlow Fair,” said Gorham, 83. “Started back when the kids (were) small.”

Those children still come back for the fair, even the ones that live out of state. Fifty or so people were expected at the house Friday, and that didn’t include the unexpected guests that often join them.

Last year, a couple from Florida thought they were taking a shortcut through the area, only to find the road closed for the parade, said Rod Cunningham, Gorham’s son-in-law. They wound up getting invited to the party.

“We have somebody every year that stops,” said Debbie Cunningham, 57, Rod’s wife and Gorham’s daughter.

“If they get lucky enough to be backed up in front of the house,” laughed Rod, 60.

Gorham doesn’t stick to his front porch for socializing during the fair though.

“I see one guy over there, that’s about the only time I see him,” he said, referring to an Athens resident he attended school with up to the fourth grade.

Visiting with people is one of Belpre resident Becky Rowland’s favorite things about the fair. But her 4-year-old granddaughter Ella Yost had something else on her mind Friday night – candy.

“She told me that she’s about out of candy,” said Rowland, 57.

They were joined later by Ella’s brother, Oliver, who rode in the parade with Cub Scout Troop 217.

“You get to see everybody,” Oliver said when asked what he enjoyed about riding in the parade.

Candy and more was tossed to the crowd as members of local volunteer fire departments, churches, Warren High School sports teams, political candidates, local businesses and more traveled by on foot, bicycle, truck, tractor, trailer and horseback. Warren’s marching band was a highlight for some parade-goers, while many youngsters enjoyed seeing the horses at the end and tractors painted pink and purple to show solidarity against breast and pancreatic cancer.

Gathering candy was a team effort for siblings Hunter, 10; Keeley, 7; and Skyley Gutberlet, 5, of Marietta.

“I’m sharing,” said Skyley, who was holding the family candy bag, not unlike Santa Claus’ pack.

All that effort to get candy made her appreciate one of the non-edible favors passed out.

“Got my fan. Too hot,” she said.

Belpre brothers Maxwell and Alex Parker were all about the candy too, but they were looking forward to taking in the fair as well.

“I like about it (that) they have tractors,” said Maxwell, 6.

“Me too,” added Alex, 5.

The rides are a favorite of many children, including Vincent resident Crystal Ware’s 6-year-old daughter, Bailey.

“I think we rode the strawberry ride 10 times last night,” said Ware, 29.

The fair continues Saturday with the feeder calf show first thing in the morning, followed by rabbit judging and the open youth horse show, with the feeder calf sale slated for 5:30 p.m. The Little Miss and Mr. Barlow pageant will be held at noon at the gazebo on the fairgrounds. There will be horse, tractor and tug pulls throughout the day, and country singer/songwriter and Wood County native Matt Enik takes the main stage at 8 p.m.