The Ox Roast Fair returns for another year of fun and sirloin

The annual St. Joseph’s Ox Roast Fair, a Portage County summer staple, will be held July 15-17 in Mantua.

The festival, in its 58th year, will feature its usual assortment of food, fun and games, including carnival rides, live entertainment, a 5K run/walk, truck and semi pulls, and of course the ox roast itself.

The festivities, which kick off at 6 p.m. July 15 and conclude at 10 p.m. July 17, will also feature Friday night fireworks, contests, giveaways, raffle drawings, a beer garden and an indoor casino. The Ox Roast main raffle winner will receive an $8,000 vacation package, with second prize netting $1,500 in cash.

The Ox Land Family Area will have children’s games and assorted kids activities such as a duck pond and turtles.

The highlight of the event, the ox roast, consists of up to 3,500 pounds of high-quality sirloin roasts that are prepared in brick-lined pits which are heated up several days before the fair, with the fire burning continuously. The beef is prepared, wrapped in unbleached muslin and netting, placed in the fiery coals, covered, and cooked for hours until done. Attendees may see the pits still smoldering as they enter the fairgrounds.

Admission to the Ox Roast is free and parking is $5 per vehicle.

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Tom Hardesty is a Portager sports columnist. He was formerly assistant sports editor at the Record-Courier and author of the book Glimpses of Heaven.