Two weekend activities are planned to help build excitement for the Washington Town and Country Fair, which opens next Wednesday.

The first is a run/walk Saturday morning at the city park pavilion behind the concert stage at the fairgrounds.

The five-mile run will begin at 7 a.m. followed by a two-mile walk at 7:05 a.m. and then a one-mile fun run for kids 12 and younger at 8 a.m.

People can register the morning of the event, beginning at 6:15 a.m. The cost is $20.

The Fair queen contestants and Fair Board members will participate, according to Marsha Meyer, committee member.

Meyer said timing chips will be used for the first time this year to ensure accurate times in the run, and a TV will be set up at the finish line so runners can see their times as they come in.

Prizes will be awarded to the top overall female and male winner in the run, and the top three winners in each age division.

A post-race party is planned with food and refreshments.

Parade Sunday

The second pre-Fair event is the annual parade starting at 4 p.m. — one hour earlier than in the past.

This year’s grand marshal is Paula Obermark, the longtime executive director of the Franklin County Area United Way, who recently retired after 33 years at the helm.

Obermark will ride in a horse-drawn stagecoach, sponsored by Wells Fargo.

The honorary group will be the United Way with board members and agency representatives riding in a special tram decorated by Hillermann Nursery & Florist.

Sheryl Siedhoff, parade chairman, said there will be a total of 103 entries, including floats, marching bands, the Shriners Yomo mini patrol, UTVs and motocross bikes, fire trucks and many service organizations, Scout troops and other children’s groups.

Among the entries will be the Fair queen candidates, who will ride in convertibles, and the 2012 Fair Queen and her court. The Fair Board also will ride on a special tram.

The parade theme is the same as the Fair — “Summer’s Last Blast.”

Judges for the parade will be local artist Gary Lucy, photographer/blogger Slava Bowman and Jennifer Higerd, art instructor at East Central College.

The judging location will be at Main and Lafayette streets. Awards will be presented at the after-party immediately following the parade at Main and Elm streets.

“Something else new this year is the top three floats will have the option to display their float at the Fair if they wish,” said Siedhoff.

The number of entries was purposely scaled back this year to shorten the parade and the start time moved up one hour earlier to give people more time to enjoy the after-party which will feature live music, food and refreshments.

Siedhoff said planning has gone very smoothly and the committee is looking forward to another great event.

“The weather is looking really good for Sunday and not as hot as in past years,” she said. “There is a slight chance of rain in the forecast, but we’re hoping it will hold off until the parade and after-party are finished.”

In the event of inclement weather, Siedhoff said people should check Facebook and the Fair’s website,, for updates in case the parade has to be rescheduled. The rain date is Monday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m.

“With a little luck, we hope this nice weather will hold out right into Fair week,” said Siedhoff, who also reminds parade spectators to bring a bag to put their candy and goodies in.

The parade will begin at Circle Drive and High Street, near the city pool. It will travel south on High to Fifth Street; east on Fifth to Jefferson Street; north on Jefferson to Main Street; and west on Main, ending near the Main and Elm parking lot.