Before the bright midway lights are switched on and the musical shows energize the evenings, the main daytime attraction at the Clearfield County Fair has traditionally been harness racing.
Horse racing itself dates from ancient times as the excellent riders of the Central Asian steppes and the Persian Empire refined the sport into daring performances of skill.
The same dash carried over to ancient chariot races. One has only to recall the 12-minute chariot race scene from the 1959 production of Ben-Hur when Charlton Heston won the day and his freedom from slavery.
Harness racing, as it is practiced today, is an honorable and humane sport. Horse owners and jockeys would have it no other way.
They devote countless hours and time and quite a bit of money into the breeding and care of both trotters and pacers.
Some horse owners see harness racing as a business, as winning prizes are sometimes lucrative. Others have an affinity for the temperament and nobility of finely bred horses.
The Clearfield County Fair has offered harness racing for, perhaps, 80 years. The racing begins at 1 p.m. Sunday of fair week.
Some harness racers practice their craft at fairs throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. The U.S. Trotting Association sets regulations for the sport.
The grandstand track at the Clearfield County Fairgrounds is nicely suitable for the harness races. It is a half-mile oval track and the races consist of two laps.
Locals involved with the racing carefully oversee the leveling and overall condition of the track and make sure that the stalls are clean. Horse and jockey safety are shown concern.
Many of the races are sponsored by local businesses and some are held as memorials to those who helped with the races and have passed on.
For the second time, the Clearfield County Historical Society is offering a special twist for the public to enjoy the harness races.
The society is sponsoring a Derby Hat Day, which mimics the outlandish hats worn at the Kentucky Derby.
The derby is a racehorse event and not a harness race, but the hat competition at the fairgrounds is free of charge and made for family fun. The public is welcome.
The two news photos show Clearfield County Fair harness racing of a bygone generation. One is from 1964 and the other from 1967.