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A lesson from the queen of fairs

June 2, 2012
By SUMMER WALLACE-MINGER , Weirton Daily Times

Our food editor, Esther, is the reigning Queen of County Fairs - not to be mistaken with the county fair queen. Esther's rule is derived from a long-time association with the local county fairs, her knowledge of their histories and her understanding of all things 4-H. She also is a frequent judge for county fair cooking contests.

Me? Not so much. My cooking is only so-so, and I barely know one end of a horse from the other. The first time I visited the Washington County Agricultural Fair, I wore slacks and heels, not exactly the best choice, as one of that year's queen contestants demonstrated by wearing rubber boots beneath her formal gown - which was met by roars of whole-hearted approval by the fair-savvy audience.

Esther is quite bemused by my fair fail, and she's always trying to help me improve. She's wanted to attend the Washington County fair with me for years - she's particularly intrigued by the "Farmers' Madness and Milk Chugging" contest - but it's always the same week of one of her fairs, so she can never attend.

So she missed my encounter with the Giant, Angry Cow (or Perhaps Steer) of Doom.

"Esther, you should have seen this cow! It was huge!"

"Was it a cow or a steer?"

"I don't know. It was really, really big. And angry. That was one ticked-off cow. It was maybe mad because it was getting hit with a stick." It was of the bovine persuasion, of that much, I was certain. I mean, it had hooves and it definitely wasn't a horse, and it was too big to be a goat.

"A show stick?"

"I don't know, it was metal and about as big around as a finger and they were whacking the cows with them ... "

"Oh, no, they were probably just stroking them. Did it have horns?"

"I don't know, I was transfixed by its big, angry cow eyes." That thing's eyes were practically spitting fire.

"Why were you in the show ring?"

"I wasn't. I was in this barn, and I needed to talk to someone about a cow, so they told me to follow this path, it was between these metal barriers ... "

"You were in the chute?"

"I don't know, this little girl - she was maybe 8 or 9 - she had this giant cow, and she was practically skiing behind it. That was a whole lotta cow moving fast."

"But why were you in the chute?"

" ... they told me to follow the metal barriers ... "

"They probably meant for you to follow on the outside of them."

"Anyway, it almost trampled me. It was huge and mad and moving fast - right at me. It was pretty much intent on killing me."

That pretty much stunned her into silence. I could tell she was shaken by my encounter with a murderous bovine.

The next day, I found a list of livestock terms on my desk, and a note: "In your quest for excellent fair coverage, I thought you might like to know these livestock terms - Esther."

Long live the queen.

(Wallace-Minger is The Weirton Daily Times community editor and can be contacted at

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