DYBERRY TWP. — The 161st Annual Wayne County Fair got off to a rousing start this past weekend as thousands of people from all over the tri-state area made their way to the banks of the Dyberry Creek.
Harness racing remains one of the Fair's biggest attractions, as has been the case since its inaugural event way back in 1862 … and this year is no exception.
According to longtime Race Secretary and Track Announcer Jeff Firmstone, the 2023 Fair will feature four days of exciting action on the historic Dyberry Oval.
Also by Kevin Edwards Harness racing returns to fairgrounds
The schedule kicked-off on Friday at 1 p.m. with eight races. Saturday's card saw seven more competitive heats. This week promises two more chances for local fans to enjoy good old-fashioned family fun.
Dave's Super Duper will sponsor Wednesday's races. Post time is 4 p.m. with special recognition for both senior citizens and veterans.
Dirlam Brothers Lumber is set to sponsor the final day of action with a 1 p.m. post time on Thursday.
Big win on the Dyberry Oval
Ten years ago, the Dunn Family of Beach Lake made a much-anticipated return to the Wayne County Fair.
The Dunns had played a major role in harness racing at the Dyberry Oval for decades dating back to the 1960s. However, they faded from the picture in the late '90s.
That all changed in 2013 as the newly christened MBC Stables LLC roared back to life, much to the delight of Firmstone.
“When I was a kid, the Dunns were a huge part of harness racing at the Wayne County Fair,” Firmstone said at the time. “They're a really nice family and we're thrilled to have them back. Anytime you can have that local connection, it's good for everyone involved.”
The Dunn Family has been back in action for 10 years now, and their stable appears stronger than ever.
On Saturday afternoon, a large local contingent turned out to see their latest star strut his stuff on Day Two at the Fair.
Rusty Beach, a three-year-old brown gelding, rocketed to victory in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Pace. With veteran driver Eric Neal in the bike, he covered the mile in a snappy time of 2:00.2.
Members of the Dunn Family poured out onto the track after Rusty Beach's triumph. Trainer Richard Dunn and handler Eric Dunn led they way, gathering in the Winners Circle for a commemorative photo and to congratulate catch driver Eric Neal.
“Eric is the best driver in the world as far as I'm concerned,” said a beaming Billy Dunn. “And he just loves Rusty Beach. Anytime we ask him to drive, he can't wait to get out there with him.”
Rusty Beach has won 20 times this year, good for total winnings of over $35,000. He now boasts a lifetime haul of nearly $70,000.
“He has a really good personality,” Billy said. “Every driver who's ever worked with Rusty Beach just loves him.”
Next up for this fiery colt is another run at the Fair, followed by a trip over to Pocono Downs. Then, it's off to Bloomsburg and Gratz to compete at two more county fairs.
The ultimate goal is for Rusty Beach to qualify for the PA Fair Finals, which is scheduled for Saturday, October 7 at Pocono.
“I'm definitely excited,” Billy said. “He knows the track at Pocono well. He's raced there several times and I think we have a really good chance to win.”
More local connections
Several other horses with local connections also made their presence felt Thursday at the Dyberry Oval.
Ever Hopeful G battled her way to a runner-up finish in the second race. The three-year-old filly is trained by Wendy Chellis and driven by Drew Chellis, both of Honesdale.
Eric Neal was back in the bike behind for the fifth race, a PA Sire Stakes Pace event. Ivy Hanover, a three-year-old bay filly trained by Richard Dunn and owned by Honesdale's David Flederbach, wound up fifth in a highly-competitive heat.
Finally, 2021 Honesdale High School graduate Adam Moeykens steered Jitterbug Dance to second place in the day's final event. The talented young driver trailed only seasoned veteran Tony Schadel in this heat reserved for three-year-old filly pacers.
This article originally appeared on Tri-County Independent: Harness racing fans cheer on local horses at the Wayne County Fair