A fair to remember

LEETOWN – It’s fair week, and people are excited. For some this means a week of deep fried food and communal entertainment.

[cleeng_content id="480657065" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]For others, especially those who have been involved in the fair for years, it’s more like coming home.

County fairs bring people together through crafts, animals, skills and shared passions. Regular participants find a sense of family in the annual gathering. Casual attendees just have good old-fashioned fun among the food, animals, games, rides and displays of talent.

Here’s what a few fairgoers had to say about what keeps them coming back year after year:

Isaac Shade is a regular attendee who is showing an antique tractor this year. He called the fair a “large gathering of country folk.”

“(It’s) where I feel at home,” Shade said.

Anne Dungan, the chairwoman of the Executive Committee of the Jefferson County Republicans, agreed. “The most fun is that you get to see people you don’t see every year, and you get to meet new ones,” she said.

Loretta Jones, the co-superintendent of the Youth Baking, Canning and Handicrafts department, said she had a hard time pinning down what she liked most about the weeklong event.

Said Jones: “The animals, of course. And seeing youth craft exhibits, especially the decorated cakes. I like the food, the truck and tractor pull, and the people! It’s like a class reunion every year.”

Mary Dewees is a lifelong fairgoer and the assistant superintendent of the Youth Rabbit department. She said she enjoys watching the young people.

“I really like all the little kids coming in to look at the rabbits,” Dewees said. “It’s just really enjoyable.”

Ruthie Gruber, the assistant superintendent of the Sewing department, has been helping with the exhibits for the past 20 years, even though she now lives in Berkeley County.

She said she likes revisiting with people she hasn’t seen all year.

“And it’s great to see all the talent,” she said.

West Virginia University extension agent Judy Matlock has been a fair regular for 39 years. She said that she appreciates “all the volunteers and hours people give to make the fair possible.”

Sharon Lentz has been coming to the fair since 1999 with her daughter’s 4-H projects. “The kids keep me coming back,” Lentz said. Her favorite attractions, though, are the livestock shows.

Bill Mason said he loves everything about the fair. But he does have a favorite: “I’m in charge of the sheep department, so that’s my passion,” said the longtime participant.

Harold Wolfe is just an ordinary fairgoer who attends every year. “I like watching everything. I like the tractors, the racing, and I like the food,” he said. “And I like the people around here.”[/cleeng_content]

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