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Fun at the Fair: ‘It’s like a big family reunion’

By Staff | Aug 25, 2017

Chronicle photos by Toni Milbourne Apple eating was one of the many competitions held in the show barn at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

KEARNEYSVILLE – Following the cars into the fairgrounds on Leetown Road brings an excitement to young and old, as each individual has their favorite part of the week-long event. Celebrating 65 years this year, the Jefferson County Fair has not disappointed those who flock to enjoy those special moments.

Contests galore were held around the fairgrounds, starting with the competitions to crown fair queens who, from the point of their crowning, were to be seen all around the grounds helping hand out awards and making new friends.

Fair-goers were able to participate in every kind of contest, from milk drinking to tractor driving; corn eating to bull riding. And the competitions were not just for the young, but also the young at heart. Adults and children could be seen driving tractors, riding bull and participating in a variety of eating adventures. With dozens of drivers were revving their engines at the annual demolition derby.

That derby, held Tuesday evening, had hordes of attendees at the arena area as heat after heat of cars traversed the figure-8 trying to be the last car moving on its own power.

Sherrie Main, one who gathered to watch, said the derby was one of the high points of the fair for her, especially because she got to watch one of her pastors, Everett Vocature, participate. Vocature, driving car 160, labeled with “Rev Ev” won top honors for the best 6-cylinder engine and took second place in his round of competition. Members of Fellowship Bible Church’s congregation packed the stands to cheer him on.

Caitlin Myers was crowned Miss Jefferson County Fair on Saturday evening, placing first among more than 20 competitors.

All of the school bands had opportunity to begin their season performing on the stage as folks gathered for a sneak preview of the upcoming band season.

And the animal barns – who can resist the cute faces of the lambs, the pigs? And there were countless rabbits and chickens and cows and horses – all hoping to win the top honors in their competitions. FFA and 4-Hers could be seen preparing to show animals at various times throughout the week. Leaving school, which happened to fall during fair week once again this year, students came prepared to demonstrate how well their animals were able to walk the ring.

Everyone had their favorite as Charles Town’s Ann Fern said that the horses were where she was headed. County Commissioner Jane Tabb threw in that the dairy barn was her best spot. Of course, she had dairy cows on display, even providing one for the annual Cow Chip Bingo competition.

RayeEllen Blackford was not to be left out as she rang in with “The goats! I love the goats!”

While many who competed in the fair did so with animals or in contests to show their abilities eating, driving or looking beautiful, there were literally thousands of entries in the exhibit halls where children and adults entered items for judging in hopes of winning white, red or top blue – or even the coveted purple Best in Show ribbon.

The midway lights and sounds drew in young and old alike.

Anne Portrey, who volunteers each year in the youth building, said that there were more than 2,000 entries by children to be judged this year.

“The best part of the fair for me is seeing all the children’s faces light up when they see their ribbons,” Portrey said.

Families could been seen strolling through the halls to find out the results of judging on art projects, 4-H specific projects, cooking, canning, flower arranging, artwork, photography and crafts. Cake decorating was among the talents of entrants as was quilting and vegetable growing. If competition could be made of something, it was done and every category drew entries. There is truly something for everyone at this annual week of fun.

Topping the list of what is the best part of the fair for many is the great food! While Tina Martin said it was the “aroma of the fair food,” that was a highlight for her, Michele Ransom narrowed it down to “eating roast beef sandwiches from the fire department and some good sweet tea!”

“Everything in the 4-H building! Hot dogs and great wraps from the 4-H and ice cream from Scoopers – boy do they pile it on,” Gary Dungan said.

Pastor Everett Vocature, from Fellowship Bible Church in Shenandoah Junction, tried his hand at the demolition derby Tuesday night. Winning the best 6-cylinder engine honors, he also came in second place in his heat of the competition.

Tricia Grove and Lisa Biggs both shared the same response, “Funnel Cake from Uvilla Church!” To these two ladies, that said it all.

But even more than the competing or even the winning, the fair serves as a community event – a gathering place that is special in its own right. The sights, smells and sounds all blend to create that once a year, end of summer feeling.

“The best part is seeing friends we only see at the fair, especially former students who are all grown up. Many of them have children of their own in school now,” said Adele Knott, retired Jefferson County Schools librarian.

Mom and daughter Sandy McDonald and Nikki McNutt shared that the week provided an opportunity to spend time with family and friends – a sentiment shared by the masses.

Whatever drew attendees to the fairgrounds, they were sure to see at least a dozen people they knew – many of whom they only see at this summer celebration.

Ally, Rachael, Reagan and Ryleigh Myers, daughters of Doug and Jennifer Myers of Harpers Ferry, check out their ribbon-winning craft entries at the fair.