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It's fair time in Jefferson

August 24, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

LEETOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Fair opened Saturday with the smell of clean straw and sawdust, the sounds of the contented grunts of hogs sleeping in their pens and the "blahhing" of sheep being weighed.

The fair started at a leisurely pace with participants bringing in their livestock, poultry, vegetables, photos and artwork to be judged.

The sites of a rural country fair: A mother chiding two young boys: "I don't appreciate you two disappearing like that." Old men talking tractors. A burly teenager, saying, "Excuse me," as he led a steer by a halter to a pen.

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Michael Wolfe, 22, of Charles Town, W.Va., held his 5-month-old daughter, Tori, in his arms as she tried to take in the sites with her bright, blue eyes.

His wife, Alison Wolfe, 18, has entered two sheep at the fair with her 4-H club.

"We'll win some stuff for her and let her see everything," Michael Wolfe said.

Michael Wolfe plans to enter the horseshoe pitching tournament on today despite not having played in sometime. He won his division last year.

Sandy Stroech, fair superintendent for the bread, cakes and pies, said not as many baked goods were entered this year as some.

She said it appeared like vegetables were also down, probably due to the drought, but she was surprised more baked goods weren't entered.

Some years the baked good entries are down due to hot weather and people don't feel like baking, Stroech said.

One woman did enter a pie for each of the nine categories, from custard to blueberry, Stroech said.

The woman apparently baked them all this morning and they were still hot when her husband carried them in, Stroech said.

The contest is a point of pride, a chance to get recognition for a skill usually only recognized by those in the family.

"Every body always thinks their apple pie or blueberry pie is the best," Stroech said.

The judges tasted a sample of each of the baked goods on Saturday afternoon.

"We always get a lot of volunteers to be judges," she said with a laugh.

Dianna Dick, 49, of Summit Point, W.Va., and her husband, Michael Dick, 46, were competing for a second year against each other in the apple pie division.

"It gets funny because I watch him in the kitchen," Dianna Dick said.

In the first year they entered, she placed second and he received an honorable mention. However, she won $2 for her second place while he won $50 for having his entry picked in a random drawing.

Dennis Barron, coordinator of events for the fair, stood by with a clipboard and a stack of notices as he watched the rehearsals for the Little Miss Jefferson County Fair Queen contest.

The contest has about 35 young girls entered to compete beginning at 1:30 p.m. today at the grandstand. The Miss Jefferson County Fair Queen contest is at 8 p.m. today and has about 45 contestants lined up.

Barron said providing entertainment for the fair is fairly easy because of the volunteers who help run the events. He calls up the woman who runs the Little Miss contest and she takes care of it.

"It's almost routine, I hate to say," he said, smiling.

Fair spokesman Michael Alvarez said that the volunteers behind the scenes work hard to make the fair a success. One woman spread 80 gallons of paint on the buildings to help spruce them up. Another worked in hot weather spreading sawdust on the floor of the rabbit barn and setting up the 229 cages.

"What really makes it worthwhile is when the kids come in here and to see the looks on their faces when they get a blue ribbon or a trophy," said John Boyle, 47, of Charles Town.

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