Children giggled and clapped as Comet climbed a ladder and began pulling cables and ropes with his teeth to get the pirate ship ready to sail.
As Jo Schrepfer talked to the audience, cats and dogs worked around the ship, climbing ladders and walking the plank.
A trio of rats even scurried along the edge of crates on cue.
“(I liked) the big dog (best),” 4-year-old Kenzie Bowman said.
“The black one, Romeo.”
Romeo, a great Dane, drew a series of “aww’s” from families when he came out of a crate and bowed.
After the show, he lay quietly on the stage while children took turns petting him.
Schrepfer told audience members during her performance that Romeo and the other animals performing in “Pets Overboard” were adopted from animal shelters.
Romeo, a registered dog, was taken to a shelter because his markings were not good enough, Schrepfer said.
The traveling animal performance is geared towards encouraging adoption from local shelters, performer Ashley Olson said, explaining, “That’s definitely the main part of the show.”
“We stopped in the shelter down the street and there’s some really great dogs in there.”
Thursday night, the fair was packed with people taking advantage of several shows in addition to midway rides, food and more.
A demolition derby treated the audience to slinging mud and crashed smoking cars, children participated in a pet show and a crowd gathered at the Special Events Center for concerts later in the evening.
County Finance Manager Mark Lansford said fair turnout has been good this year, with ticket sales for the first three days coming in at least 1,000 more visitors than 2008’s.
Thursday evening as fair staff prepared for the nights activities, Lansford said, “We’re expecting a big crowd. The weather is looking like it’s going to be good.”
Through Wednesday, 4,657 people had paid admission to the fair, he said.