County fair statistics prove it: Fair season a smashing success

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SALEM, Ohio — Another season jam-packed with county fair coverage has come to an end in Farm and Dairy.

And as we do every year right about now, it’s time to thumb through the dozens of pages that chronicled a fair season that was marked by unrelenting heat, was some exhibitors’ first, some exhibitors’ last, and one that created memories to last a lifetime.

Digging through Farm and Dairy’s files on every county fair covered this year uncovered some interesting facts and figures. New sale records were written. Family dynasties continued. Winners repeated their ways. Sibling rivalries were strengthened in the showring.

But none is more impressive than the overall total receipts for the three dozen fairs photographed and written up from July to October. Surely a sign of the times and the willingness of bidders to open their wallets, junior fair exhibitors raked in a regional record $7.6 million this summer.

That’s more net proceeds than any fair season on record here at Farm and Dairy, and tops last year’s record by more than $530,000.

Expansion. The four-month fair season brought coverage of 36 county fairs to the pages of Farm and Dairy, including newcomers Erie and Warren counties in northwestern Pennsylvania. Neither county was factored into last year’s end-of-season stats.

Ohio counties covered this summer include Ashland, Ashtabula, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Guernsey, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Knox, Mahoning, Medina, Monroe, Noble, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas and Wayne. We also attended the Loudonville Street Fair.

In Pennsylvania, we watched over the Butler Farm Show, Big Knob and Hookstown Fair, plus fairs in Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer 4-H Roundup, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

We ventured into Marshall County, W.Va., too.

The place to be. The grand champion steer banner is often the most coveted of all livestock contests at county fairs, and this year the champion beef category turned out to be the most notable, with five price records set across the area.

New records were written with Brandi Clay’s $5.25 per pound in Ashtabula County; Colt Filges’ $7 at the Butler Farm Show; Alisa Shenigo’s $4.25 in Summit County; Shelby Dean’s $4 in Lawrence County; and Morgan Moore’s $7.25 in Portage County.

However, the highest-bid steer of all was in Fayette County, Pa., where Caleb Ingram’s project brought a whopping $10 per pound. Also of note is the $9-per-pound bid for Lexie Matthews’ steer next door in Washington County, Pa.

One record fell in reserve champion steer sales, and that honor went to Monica Drobezko in Lawrence County. Drobezko’s steer brought $3.05 per pound, a dime more than her reserve champion that set the $2.95 record in 2006.

The highest bid for a reserve champion steer was $6.25 per pound, earned by Megan Miller in Holmes County.

More records. Two new records were also penned for lamb projects.

Madison Moore’s champion in Portage County brought a whopping $23 per pound record, which tied with Washington County’s Abby Miles for the highest bid for any champion lamb in the area this year.

Rebecca Tyson’s reserve champion at the Butler Farm Show brought a record $9.75 per pound.

The highest bid for any reserve champion market lamb was made in Washington County, Pa., where Dean Casciola sold his lamb for $18 per pound.

Champion lamb bids worth special mention include Alexis Tabaj in Fayette County, Pa., at $20 per pound; Tuscarawas’ Morgan Himes at $15.50; and Butler Farm Show’s Nichole Laughlin at $15 per pound.

Reserve champions also fared well in Tuscarawas County, where Cole Lorenz’s project lamb brought $15 per pound; and in Greene County, Pa., where Ethan Virgili’s project brought $14.25 per pound.

Balancing the bacon. We didn’t have full coverage of the Muskingum County Fair, but featured a front-page photo of a real whopper from that fair. We haven’t heard if there were any special circumstances that surrounded the purchase, but it’s so magnificent we’re giving it another moment in the spotlight.

First-year 4-H’er Logan Hittle raised that fair’s 265-pound grand champion hog, and sold it for a record $81 per pound to John Hinderer Honda. That’s a total of $21,465! Congratulations again, Logan.

A $15-per-pound bid was the magic target in both grand and reserve hog categories for fairs covered this year. Seth Ebert’s Ashland County champion and Kaitlyn Lyle’s Washington County, Pa., hog each took home those bids to be the second highest in our coverage area.

Champion bids were also placed at the $10 mark for Bethann Gibson’s hog in Noble County; $10.50 to both L.V. Kline in Stark County and Emily Sprang in Holmes County; $11 for Mitchell Murray in Wayne County and Caleb Zeigler in Tuscarawas County; and $13 per pound for the project raised by Meghan Marsh in Marshall County, W.Va.

Reserve champions held their own at $10 per pound for projects raised by Scott Puzacke in Tuscarawas County and Tracy Teichman in Geauga County; and at $9.50 for Hannah Reed in Greene County, Pa.

The same or better. Grand and reserve champion hogs earned equal bids in Carroll County, at $6.10 per pound (Ben Bryan and Jenna Chiavari); Medina County, $5.50 (Jamie O’Neill and Krystal Coffman); and Greene County, $9.50 (Samantha Martin and Hannah Reed).

Reserve champion hog bids beat champions’ at the Butler Farm Show, where Jonny Merten earned $6.50 for his reserve and Grant McKinnis got $6.25 for his champ; in Washington County, Pa., where Kaitlyn Lyle’s $15-per-pound reserve bested Preston Miller’s $9.50 grand; and in Erie County, Pa., when Bethany Mongera’s reserve brought $3.25 per pound and Mikayla Donnell’s grand earned $2.10.

Junior fair exhibitors in the tri-state area raked in a record $7.6 million this summer.
Grand and reserve champion lambs shown by Jacob and Mike Nickles at the Loudonville Street Fair both earned $10 per pound.

Reserve champion lambs outbid their champions in several counties, including Kirsten Hacker’s $4.10 to her own $4 per pound in Trumbull County; Hailey Brogan’s $6 to Kaci Carter’s $5.75 in Harrison County; Jessica Helgert’s $9.50 to Trista Sykes’ $9 in Crawford County, Pa.; Ethan Virgili’s $14.25 to Danny Fox’s $13.25 in Greene County, Pa.; and Katrina Harper’s $7.85 to Ellen Schott’s $6.75 in Noble County.

Twins Taylor and Madison Banbury dueled in Knox County, with Madison’s reserve champion earning $6.75 per pound and her sister’s champion bringing $6.50.

No reserve champion steer outbid its champion.

Stacking up. With receipts of $510,320.70, Stark County takes this year’s bragging rights of highest-grossing sale.

Wayne County, who stood over Stark last year, came in second this time around with outstanding sales of $476,229.20.

Rounding out the rest of the Top 10 counties are Tuscarawas; Knox; Holmes; Ashland; Mahoning; Portage; Washington, Pa.; and Guernsey.

All top 10 counties had sales of at least $274,000.

Averages. The averages of champion and reserve champions with complete sales reported to Farm and Dairy in 2007 are:

Grand champion steers: high, $10; low, $1.50; average price, $4.74.

Reserve champion steers: high, $6.25; low, $1.50; average price, $2.83.

Grand champion hogs: high, $15; low, $2.10; average price, $7.06.

Reserve champion hogs: high, $15; low, $1.55; average price, $5.18.

Grand champion lambs: high, $23; low, $2.65; average price, $9.17.

Reserve champion lambs: high, $18; low, $1.50; average price, $6.51.

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