Music, arena events highlight fair
Patty Mills, of Vanderbilt, has an enviable job as a volunteer for the Fayette County Fair.
As chairwoman of Department 15, Home and Dairy Products, she oversees the entries in 66 classes of homemade cakes, cookies and breads from filled cookies, raisin bread and cinnamon rolls to angel food cake, assorted pies, cupcakes and candies.
She relies on her two-person judging team to taste-test each entry, evaluating each dessert item for flavor, lightness and general appearance. Sometimes, she gets to sample the freshly home-baked goodies.
"The judges do occasionally say that a certain entry is exceptional and the helpers taste a nibble. It's a real treat," she says.
While Mills is busy in the Economics Building, her son, Caleb, 15, will be getting his 1,300-pound steer ready for 4-H Livestock Club judging. He has cared for the animal since last November as part of his 4-H project, his mother says, and he will have charge of the steer until the final day of the fair, when it is sold at auction.
Caleb, in his fifth year as a 4-H member, is used to taking care of livestock and the inevitable separation when it comes time for the animal to be sold.
"It's a good lesson in today's age," Mills says. "There are tremendous life lessons learned."
In addition to the 4-H competition, the fair showcases top farm animals in the "open" class. Sue Koleck, secretary of the Fayette County Fair board, says the exhibitions "are as popular as ever" this year, drawing 148 sheep, 143 dairy goats, 688 chickens, 106 rabbits, 33 swine, 98 dairy cattle and more. So many animals are entered that they must be exhibited on a rotating basis to accommodate all of them, she says.
Two types of visitors tend to turn out to view the exhibitions, according to Koleck. "You have people in the industry who come to fairs to see other entries, she says, "and it gives people not involved with farm life a chance to see the animals."
Besides blue-ribbon competitions in many categories, the 52nd edition of the fair offers 10 days of entertainment, children's activities and carnival attractions. In addition to the popular demolition derby, rodeo, motocross and monster truck pull to be held in the Outdoor Arena, this year's fair will include a new event, riding lawnmower races, at 7 p.m. Friday.
"It's new to us, but it's becoming popular around the country," says Bill Jackson, president of the fair board.
Increased seating capacity that can accommodate 5,000 patrons at the Outdoor Arena is the result of a $400,000 renovation project that added 1,500 seats in time for the fair, Jackson says.
Another new event, sponsored by Blaney Farms, of Perryopolis, is a round hay bale decorating contest. Registration closed July 21 for the competition, which invites residents to create a design on one of several hay bales scattered throughout the grounds. John and Hazel Blaney came up with the idea.
"We've never seen such a contest, but we thought it might be a real fun thing to do," Hazel Blaney says. "Part of the reason for the contest is to help decorate the fairground." Entries will be judged at 9 a.m. Friday, and winners will receive cash prizes and ribbons.
The Blaneys also are in charge of the Outdoor Arena shows, which Hazel Blaney says offer an entertainment bargain for those who visit the fair. One of the most popular events is the monster truck races on Aug. 2.
"Where else for a $9 ticket will you get the entire fair and monster trucks, too?" she asks. "It's super affordable."
Jackson says that last year's fair attendance topped 90,000 over its 10-day run.
"Pigs Gone Wild" pig races: 4:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. daily; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Kidbucks Game Show: 4:45, 6:45 and 8:45 p.m. daily; 2:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Alain Zerbini Circus: 5:15 and 7:15 p.m. daily; 3:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Enchanted Wagon: Strolling from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Aug. 5,
Barn Yard Petting Zoo and Kiddie Farm: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Heinz Hitch Exhibition: 6:15 p.m. daily
Trick Pony, 8 p.m. Friday
Unbridled, 8 p.m. Saturday
NoMad, 5 p.m. Sunday
PovertyNeck Hillbillies, 7 p.m. Sunday
The Fabulous Hubcaps, 7 p.m. Monday
PovertyNeck Hillbillies, 8 p.m. Aug. 3
The Ultimate Elvis Tribute featuring Mike Albert, 8 p.m. Aug. 5
Fayette County FairWhen: Today-Aug. 5; carnival hours: 6-11 p.m. today; 3-11 p.m. Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Aug. 3-4; 1-11 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Aug. 5
Admission: $7 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., includes rides, indoor and outdoor arena entertainment; $9 after 4 p.m.
Where: Fayette County Fairgrounds, 132 Pechin Road, Dunbar
Details: 724-628-3247 or www.fayettefair.com