Fair season is off and running

The fair season is here, arriving with a bit of rain, a bit of humidity and lots of sunny weather. The first one in our area was the Harrison County Fair held July 2-6.

I wandered over hilly terrain when first covering Harrison County in 1980 – actually 1981 was my first fair as I started in October of the previous year. It was on hilly terrain at that time, with trees to provide shade. Later it was leveled to make it easier to walk.


I have seen Vanessa Cramblett become an adviser of the Dusty Boots 4-H Club and then becoming Mrs. Birney. I have seen Jennifer Birney, who was once the junior fair queen, become a 16-year member of the New Rumley 4-H Club and add Ryder as her name. Sandi Thompson went from being a 4-H member to an adviser of Germano Community 4-H and an officer on the county dairy board. The list goes on and on.

What I truly enjoy is wandering through the 4-H building and looking at the booths. They tell a story of each club and its members.

Sherri Van Tassel became an adviser of the Dusty Boots 4-H Club this year and is serving on the 4-H committee. She and her group were instrumental in putting down a wooden floor in the 4-H and dairy association food stand, making it easier to clean up.

The Stitch and Hitch 4-H Club had a group project on alcohol and drug abuse and received an award for their efforts. Loretta Pickens has been an adviser for the club for 40 years, and her daughter, Jill Valdinger, has been with mom in those efforts for 23 years. There are seven members in the club.

“We had to look for advertisements for alcohol products and cigarettes in magazines. And do you know how hard it is to find cigarette advertisements?” she asked. “Members did 30-second announcements on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse at Harrison Central to make students aware, too.

“Last year the club did a group project on first aid, and next year it will be on where Ohio stands on alcohol fatalities,” she said.

The Dusty Boots 4-H Club had pictures of known persons who belonged to 4-H in their youth. Bob Evans of restaurant fame was a 4-H member; Kate Smith, WNBA Olympics, who is from Logan, Ohio, was in 4-H and Mark Sanborn, former national FFA president, is a 4-H alumnus.

Sowing the Seeds of Greatness was the booth theme, and the Green Valley club started sowing those seeds in 1951. Tillie Heavilin started sowing those seeds two years after the club started up. She has been an adviser for 60 years.

Royal Riders had members write down what they learned from becoming a member of the four H’s, being head, heart, hands and health.

One member wrote, “4-H has taught me to work hard even when odds are against me.” Another cited the organization as being helpful for making her a more responsible and better person.

“It has improved my life by giving me confidence to stand in front of people and show my animals and to learn about community service and leadership.”

“It trains your mind to see the good side of every situation.” And the last one was “Hard work pays off. The possibilities are endless.”

The Crafty Country Kids are a new kid on the block this year. Their advisers, Mandi Price and Kristen Willis, received 1-year recognition for this.


I have to tell about a mistake I made in writing cutlines for the gigantic tractor picture I took of Reed Arbaugh. I wrote that the tractor came from Jones Equipment. Wrong! There is more than one Jones in that business. It is really the operation of the John, Don and Jon Jones family and known as the D&J Sales and Service of Freeport. I was reminded of this in a nice way by four people. I am so sorry.

Tina is a member of the Jones family and secretary of the Harrison County Agricultural Society. She helped me in a big way on Junior Fair Night. When she learned I was hunting 4-H members with animals for pictures, she sprinted about the grounds and got me young people. She even printed up the identification information I needed. Good job, Tina.


On July 4, there was a Nationwide Insurance NASCAR promotional car on the fairgrounds. It was one of a series of three, according to Marty Whicker, who drove the truck pulling the glass enclosed showcase with the car from North Carolina. Scott Anderson of Hopedale was persuaded to be in a picture for me. His friends would not do it, and I am thankful for his help.


The junior fair livestock sale can always be counted on for fun, free soft drinks and snacks if you are a buyer and for the second year, a nice dinner.

Jay and Matthew came to the sale and stayed over the weekend. My guys liked the pulled pork sandwiches and want me to try to duplicate them.

Bill Host, auctioneer, started off the sale and told how many of the animals took a better part of a year to raise, requiring much work.

Livestock banners were donated by the Freeport Press Inc. and the county junior livestock sale committee. Ball caps were donated by L & D Sales and Service.

Buyers could choose from any size market hog, ranging from 202 to 310 pounds. Garrit Sproull, who had the reserve champion market steer, had a pig with the least weight, 202 pounds. Kendall Johnson had a 310-pound hog.

Madeena Piergallini raised two hogs and donated the funds from the livestock projects for brain tumor research in memory of her dad, Dino, who died in February from a brain tumor he had been struggling to control for several years. Randall Gallagher of Gallagher Memorials purchased the 270-pound hog for $4 per pound. Her grandfather, Raymond Piergallini, purchased the 225-pound animal for $5 per pound.

Kiana Ghezzi of Freeport Friends 4-H Club had her 233-pound pig take her down when it ran between her legs and upset her. Lucas Wallace was the buyer of the hog.

Ringman John Birney was having trouble with bids when he found many women talk with their hands and wave at friends. He told one woman that she almost bought a pair of ducks due to her waving.


One fair down and two to go. I truly enjoy seeing all the friends I have made through the years at the fair and give a hearty thumbs-up approval of the 4-H and FFA clubs and their members who know how to work to get a project completed and go out and do community projects.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)