MILLVILLE - A new event at this week's Cumberland County Fair features folks who will race their vehicles through three bogs of mud to get to the finish line.

If this week's forecast holds true, participants will get help from Mother Nature in cleaning up after the race.

The National Weather Service is predicting at least a 30 percent chance of rain every day through Thursday. Rain was falling heavily Monday afternoon as workers were finishing preparations for the fair, which runs through Saturday.

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This is the second year in a row that the fair, held at the Cumberland County Fairgrounds in Millville, faced dealing with lousy weather.

The fair opened last year after a June 30 storm caused millions of dollars of damage throughout the county and left thousands of homes and businesses without power. Power was restored at the fair halfway through opening night. The weather for last year's fair also was brutally hot.

Cumberland County Fair Association Director Terry Pangburn knows there is not much he or anybody else can do, except hope the rain falls when the fair is closed.

"That's our biggest variable," Pangburn said of the weather. "We just hope it holds out."

The Cumberland County Fair is the oldest county fair in New Jersey. The event started in the small community of Greenwich, now Greenwich Township, in 1695. The location has changed a few times, including a stint in Bridgeton from the late 1890s to 1968, when it moved to its current location.

Organizers said this week's fair will have some other new attractions, such as paintball and laser tag. The popular demolition derbies are being expanded, they said.

Back again are the fair's staples - places where visitors can buy Polish sausage sandwiches, pizza, cotton candy, pop corn, fried pickles, ice cream and other eats, along with souvenirs and balloons.

Another staple is the fair's longtime connection with Cumberland County 4-H program.

Pavilions are filled with horses, pigs, rabbits, goats and other animals that are either just on display or which will vie for various ribbons.

Chandler Goldsboro, 13, of Pittsgrove Township in Salem County, may have some of the youngest entries - goats Baby Acres and Diesel Jack. The brother and sister team are 3 weeks old.

Goldsboro said he will walk the goats in an upcoming competition. That will be preceded by some extra care, as both baby goats are being bottle nursed, he said.

Hammonton resident Carla Talarowski, 13, is back at the fair this year with her horse, Goldie.

Goldie, 18, is specially trained to handle handicapped children, she said. Part of Goldie's training involves him stopping when he feels a shift in the rider's weight, indicating the rider may fall off, she said.

Talarowski said the Cumberland County Fair is the only fair to which she brings Goldie.

"It's really fun here," she said. "It's really clean, and everyone is so nice."

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