BLOOMSBURG - Those attending the 158th Bloomsburg Fair later this month can expect to see beautiful, more brightly colored rides, miniature horses pulling heavy loads and even a mascot for the kids.

All this and more was announced Wednesday afternoon during the annual media kickoff luncheon at the industrial arts building at the fairgrounds.

Rick Reithoffer, of Reithoffer Shows, Dallas, told the board members that he has invested in LED lighting for 11 of the rides at the event, which is being held from Sept. 21 to 28.

The move was made because the multi-colored lights are beautiful at night and it will save him on energy and fuel, he said.

The rides with newly-installed LED lights are Giant Wheel, Pharaoh's Fury, Starship Enterprise, Super Himalaya, Wild Claw, Bumper Cars, Fireball, Wave Swinger, Jumping Jumbo, Bumble Bee and the Carousel.

For the Giant Wheel, Reithoffer said, the light program is on an hour loop before it repeats the pattern.

The number of seats will be doubled for Sky Ride, a 100-car aerial tramway - the longest at any county or state fair in the nation. The ride, which debuted last year, takes riders from one end of the fairground to the other.

Three new rides will be introduced this year: Tango, Speed and The Western Mouse.

Tango, a one-of-a-kind ride, has several spokes with vehicles on both sides that spin while the whole ride rises into the air and also spins, Reithoffer said.

Speed will take four riders on both sides of the ride 140 feet into the air and spin them at 75 mph while the seats are also flipping, he said.

The Western Mouse is a roller coaster in the kid's section, he said.

Reithoffer will also be offering a $13 handstamp for all rides on Sept. 20.

"Let's kick this off to a big, rocking success," he said.

Miniature horses

Making a special appearance during the luncheon were Barney and Sexy, two miniature horses who will be competing at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 in a miniature horse pull.

Deb Alpaugh, of Maple Lawn Farms, said there will be two classes of horses competing: 34 inches and under and 38 inches and under.

The animals must pull a boat, which looks like a sled, a distance of 10 feet, and they will be judged three times on which horse pulls the most weight for the longest distance.

Technology

Carey Howell, superintendent of the grandstand shows, introduced a Bloomsburg Fair app for iPhone and Android phone users. The app will feature a map, a list of vendors, the ability to purchase tickets and additional information.

"This is the first year for this and hope you'll take advantage of it," Howell said.

Fair attendees will also be able to bypass the ticket collector and purchase the gate tickets online on the Fair's website for entrance and entertainment.

Scheduled performers at the grandstand include Lee Greenwood, Hunter Hayes, Casting Crowns, Three Days Grace and Finger 11, Halestorm, Scott McCreery, Austin Mahone and Coco Jones and Justin Moore.

Free stage acts

Meanwhile, there will plenty of free entertainment, including Re-Creation, local high school bands, Mahoney Brothers, the First Columbia Teen Stars, The Flying Pages, Agricadabra, a fiddle contest and Big Cat Encounters.

The first horse races this year will be held at 2 p.m. Friday.

Tickets for the fair are $8 each at the gate, but can be purchased for $7 each or $48 for eight at Giant Food Stores until the first day of the fair.

Economic impact study

Dr. Heather S. Feldhaus, director of the Center for Community Research and Consulting at Bloomsburg University, discussed during the luncheon the economic impact study that will be conducted at the fairgrounds this year.

Her students, business/economics major Brandon Harman and sociology major Michael Otto, have been working for nine months to prepare for the study, and will be leading 100 volunteers from the school in conducting it over four days and eight shifts.

The volunteers will survey people on subjects like how far they traveled, how much money they are spending or will spend and if they're lodging in the area. They will also survey vendors on similar questions and also whether they hire local workers.

David Otto Kurecian, executive director, said an economic impact study was conducted for the Covered Bridge Festival at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, this past year. The direct impact, which is reported spending, was $8.5 million, while the indirect impact was $14.2 million.

"We're excited to see what it is for the Bloomsburg Fair," Kurecian said.

Other notes

- Farmer Bloom, who was born on the Fourth of July, will be introduced as the fair's new mascot. He will be walking around the fair and interacting with the guests. He has already appeared at several local fairs and events.

- Dante Green, a junior at Bloomsburg Area High School, sang the national anthem at the luncheon. He will perform on the free stage from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 28 as the first place winner of the 2013 First Columbia Bank Teen Star Performance. He will be joined by second place winner Abigail Goble, 2013 finalists and previous winners and finalists.

- Representatives from the state House Agriculture and Tourism Committee will be visiting during the fair.