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Fair takes on whole new meaning

| Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

UNITED - To a lot of people, the Westmoreland County Fair means livestock and agricultural competitions of all kinds. However, for a group of 4-H members, the fair took on a whole new meaning on Thursday.

More than 30 kids from all over Westmoreland County came to the fair armed with their own model rockets to find out just how their creations would perform against each other and the elements in the 4-H Model Rocket Flight Test.

Because it was a windy day and the forecast called for a chance of storms, competitors were warned that their rockets may not go where they think they will.

The rockets were launched from movable stands and participants were permitted to set their rockets off in whatever direction they felt would best combat the wind. In addition, they were warned that if the weather got too severe, the contest would be halted. Fortunately, that did not happen.

One facet of the competition that the participants - and spectators - are made aware before even one rocket is launched is safety.

"This is a serious thing for safety," said one volunteer at the event. "These are experimental rockets. If I say keep your heads down, that means duck; one is coming your way."

Competitors could enter their rockets for altitude, accuracy or both. Volunteers chased down rockets and measured their distance to the target: a green lawn chair in the middle of a field behind the 4-H Horse Arena. Rockets that landed relatively close to the chair were measured with a tape, and those that landed a good distance from the chair were marked off by paces.

The altitude portion of the competition was divided by size of the rocket engine: Rocket AB and Rocket CD. Top finishers in the Rocket AB division were Isaac Schindler in first, Nick Falbo in second and Brandon Komar in third. For the Rocket CD division, Ian Paul took first, Kevin Soxman second and Michael Martin Jr. third.

The accuracy competition was judged in two divisions according to age: 8-11 and 12 and older. Finishing with top honors in the 8-11 division were Chris Back in first, Brandon Komar in second and Jacob Short in third. In the 12 and older division, it was Don Ausec finishing in first, Scott Komar in second and Kevin Soxman in third.

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