At last! All the suspense, all the practice, all the preparation and hard work are gone — well, not really — and the big day has finally arrived: the Mahoning County Fair, proudly known as Canfield Fair, is underway and as of this moment the fairgrounds are ready to be wall to-wall with people through Labor Day.
The last stitch has been sewn, the last feather smoothed, the last film processed, each hair on the horse’s tail separated, the cow’s final — yeah, sure — bath given, the most perfect fruit picked, the best bale of hay selected, the last recipe completed, the 4-H project finished, the most beautiful flower blooming in the most beautiful display.
The few remaining granges still participate as actively as they can, and their exhibits in the grange building have always been exceptional, as are those of the school children.
This list could go on and on, so many incredible exhibits await your attention and praise. I still have the premium book from the 1977 fair — I was the lone “press” that year and would be for 17 years — and on the back where I kept figures I had written attendance totals for all five days, the grand total was, for the first time ever, 500,963. That hasn’t been equaled since. (I have always liked to think that my hour-by-hour reporting had something to do with that record.)
And while to the visitor everything appears to be moving like clockwork, don’t be fooled. The board and everyone involved has been working on this fair since the end of the 2010 fair. Think of the logistics!
So while you’re meeting friends and seeing others you haven’t seen since last fair and enjoying all the wonderful smells and sights and sounds and eating all that wonderful food, give thanks to all those who makes Canfield Fair the best.
Speaking of reunions, Winnie had one recently with a grandson! Of course she’d never met him before, but Cindy Riggans of Canton, the angel who gave me Winnie, was in town for the dog show at the fairgrounds and brought gorgeous year-old OJ to meet his grandma.
Turned loose together in the barn, it was a sight to see as they bonded immediately and raced up and down until Winnie (no spring chicken at 11) had enough and went to the door to be let back into the house and her bed. Although she has been with me 24/7 these past four years, she remembers Cindy when she comes and is joyously vocal and affectionate.
Have you always been confused about the gender of mules?
Next time I’ll give you a lesson in animal husbandry, gleaned from a magazine — a 2001 issue of Mules and More Inc., then of Bland., Mo. — in a garage’s waiting room.
Did you happen to catch Academic Challenge on ABC the other night? Olivia Withers was on the Springfield High School team. She’s the 14-year-old daughter of Howie and Trish Withers. (Howie continues the family’s farming tradition.)
And back from Florence, Italy, where they were among 4,000 delegates to the International Brain Research Organization and presented two visuals, are Dr. Ginger — Gigi — Withers and her husband, Dr. Christopher Wallace. Gigi’s parents are Beverly and Gordon Withers of Honey Creek Farm in Petersburg where Gigi grew up.
“From the farm to brain research,” her mom marvels. She was Ohio Milking Shorthorn queen in 1977 and national queen the next year. (And her dad was 4-H king in 1957!) Certainly, dairying is in the Withers’ family’s blood and I’m sure there are many more but I’ve known their’s since I used to get my hay from Gordie’s dad, “Beanie.” That’s been more than a few years ago!
Have fun at the fair!