History Behind the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio

Ever wondered about the history behind the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio?

The Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio is a harness race for three-year-old pacing standard-bred horses. The race is hosted by the Delaware Agricultural Society and is held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. The tradition has a rich and interesting history:

  • The tradition began in 1946 and takes place annually on the third Thursday following Labor Day.
  • The tradition is named for Little Brown Jug, a pacer who won 9 races in a row and was inducted into the USTA Hall of Fame in 1975
  • The tradition actually began in Morrow County in 1937, but moved to Delaware County the following year
  • A half-mile track was built in 1939 for harness racing
  • A local contractor, R.K. McNamara, designed and built the track
  • The track is the fastest racing strip of its size in the country
  • The event focuses particularly on 3-year-old pacers
  • Little Brown Jug was named through a newspaper contest between 1944 and 1945
  • The first jug, in 1946, was won with driver Wayne “Curly” Smart and had a purse of $35,358
  • Ensign Hanover won the $35,358 purse
  • Unofficial gate estimates count 27,000 enthusiasts at the first 1946 race
  • Smart later became the track superintendent
  • Many Jug winners are recognized as some of the all-time greats in the sport
  • The founding of the Jug began in 1937 when the Delaware County Agricultural Society voted to move the fairgrounds from Powell to Delaware
  • Joe Neville, a Delaware attorney, directed much of the building of the fairgrounds and track
  • Henry C. “Hank Thomson”, the managing editor of the Delaware Gazette, became the first race secretary

The Little Brown Jug of Delaware, Ohio is quite famous among harness racers and the track is known amongst many of the sports’ all-time greats. The rustic and intimate setting of the Little Brown Jug attracts enthusiasts from all around the country, allowing the Little Brown Jug to enjoy great success. For more information about the Little Brown Jug and its glorious history, click here.


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