Readers shared their fair memories with Farm and Dairy and now we’re sharing them with you in this second and final installment.
The driver of the old Coca-Cola wagon at the Stark County Fair was my granddaughter Kristine Carlson Scheetz. Kris is now a county school teacher. She also drove the six-pony hitch. The Coca-Cola Co. has a museum and I hope to place the wagon there someday. They employed a man from Pennsylvania to go around to schools and give them “samples” of Coke as a sales promotion.
THROUGH THE YEARS
We have had all kinds of competition over the years at the Crawford County (Pa.) Fair. For example, the dairy princess giving a bale of hay a toss to the parade of blue ribbon livestock in front of the grandstand. We have had spinning and weaving demonstrations. Then we have had the rain and had to put up plastic in the grandstand to keep people from getting wet. We now have a new grandstand.
One of the humorous things that happened, several years ago, a man from Edinboro brought his chickens to the fair not realizing they had to be pre-registered. He then asked if he could stay over with his chickens as he had brought them in a wagon behind his bicycle – a distance of approximately 20 miles.
Crawford County Fair
My story is from the distant past as I am 78 years old.
My experience with the Stark County Fair is extricably tied to my father, the late H. Howard Werstler who served on the Stark County Fair Board for nearly 30 years. My father was a chicken doctor in the old sense of the word, had a large flock of purebred poultry and other fowl so it was natural for him to serve as chairman of the poultry department.
In August he hired a couple of men and myself to clean and disinfect the pens. What a dirty job. It was all in preparation for the 1,000 entries of many varieties of chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and guineas (sometimes called birds or fowl).
We showed many of my father’s prize poultry. One spring my father bought me 30 white rock pullets that were 4 weeks old. I raised them and showed the best at the fair.
Cloth ribbons were displayed for those pens that received championship status and paper ribbons for first through third places.
The office of the poultry department was open but there was a small room where a watchman stayed overnight.
Even in the 1920s to the 1940s we had to be careful to guard against thievery. It was forbidden for any fair attendee to open a cage so there were civilian guards to prevent theft, but even so, once in a while we would catch someone opening a cage and a chicken would get out.
Of course all of the employees would try to corner the chicken and find where it had escaped. Each bird had an identification band on its right leg so we could place the animal into its rightful cage.
I saw an individual steal an egg from a cage, puncture the end and suck the raw egg right into his mouth. That was the first time I learned that some people eat raw eggs.
My twin sister was present when my father’s single comb Rhode Island Red rooster won a championship. The Canton Repository took a very unusual picture of her and the rooster as he spread his wings, lifted his head and crowed like the champion he was.
One of my favorite treats at the fair was vanilla taffy. Later in my life I was in attendance in Atlantic City at a national school superintendents’ meeting when I purchased the same quality of candy as in the good old days.
My twin, Rachel, and I were in the 4-H baby beef club for eight years. We each had a steer we raised and showed at the fair. We didn’t have a champion in that category but we more than made up in the poultry department.
After the fair was over, my father allowed us in our younger years to search the grounds for coins that had been lost.
My whole childhood revolved around 4-H, Hartville Band, school and church.
Through my father’s knowledge of poultry and other livestock, I was educated to appreciate how lower animals fit into the world order. In this respect he took me to the seventh World’s Poultry Congress that was held in Cleveland for the first, and I believe the only, time in the United States.
When I became a science teacher and consultant in the Cleveland suburbs I founded a science fair in the middle of the 1950s. I based the catalog of entries, prizes and rules on A Standard of Perfection, a book that described each of the hundreds of varieties of poultry.
I used my long-established work ethic as an example for the students to emulate as they entered their projects in the science fair and to establish in their mind the need for excellence.