CHARLESTON — The second year of a motor sports competition and the return of another traditional event are some of the highlights of this year's Coles County Fair schedule.
What's billed as the longest running continuous fair in the state will mark its 166th edition when it opens at noon Sunday, July 28, and continues through the following Sunday, Aug. 4.
Events on the fair's first day include the start of 4-H livestock shows at 1 p.m. and the opening of the carnival at 4 p.m., capped off with the "Little Miss" and Coles County Fair queen pageants at 5 p.m.
The next day brings a return of the "dirt drag" competition at 7 p.m. in the fairgrounds grandstand. Drivers of gas trucks, diesel trucks, dirt bikes, four-wheelers and ATVs can participate.
Fair board President Tom Jones said last year's competition was a "test" to gauge interest. The crowd enjoyed the event despite rain that forced the competition to move to a different track, he said.
"We had pretty good attendance for the first year," Jones said.
Also, recent work on the fairgrounds' horse arena will mean the 4-H horse show can return to the fair after a two-year absence. It's scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 2.
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Other popular grandstand events from the last few years are also set to be part of this year's fair.
Truck and tractor pulls are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30, and Thursday, Aug. 1. Harness racing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31, and 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2.
The annual demolition derby is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2, and the final grandstand show of the fair, professional bull riding, will take place once again on Saturday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m.
4-H livestock shows continue through Tuesday, July 30, with the master showmanship competition at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31, and livestock auction and awards presentation at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 1.
There will be no admission fee to enter the fairgrounds before 4 p.m. through Saturday, Aug. 3, and all day on the fair's final day, Sunday, Aug. 4. General adult admission at other times will be $3.
A complete schedule of the fair's activities, grandstand event ticket prices and more information are available online at www.colescountyfair.com.