Jefferson Co. Fair official has high hopes for 32 acres

August 18, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

LEETOWN, W.Va. - People began streaming into the Jefferson County Fair Sunday, an event that has doubled the size of its property over the last year.

Earlier this year, fair officials asked the Jefferson County Commissioners to donate 32 acres adjacent to the fair property along Leetown Road for expansion.

The weeklong fair has attracted close to 36,000 people in recent years, and fair officials wanted the property to expand their attractions.


The fair acquired the 32 acres last month, and fair officials now are talking about building an equestrian trail on the property, said fair President J.P. Burns Jr.

Another proposal is construction of an amphitheater, which could be used for entertainment and other events like demolition derbies, Burns said.

Demolition derbies are a mainstay at some fairs, but the event is too big for the fair's grandstand, Burns said.

If the amphitheater is built, events like demolition derbies could be held there, while others could be held simultaneously at the grandstand, Burns said.

"And then we will have to worry about parking. One thing leads to another around here," said Burns, who has been involved in the fair every year except one since it started 51 years ago.

Although there are a wide range of attractions at the fair, one of the event's primary roles is to give youths and adults a place to show livestock they have raised throughout the year and a chance at winning ribbons and prize money for top animals.

Many youths raise the animals as part of their projects for 4-H and Future Farmers of America groups.

The fair thrives even as parts of the county's agricultural landscape begins to give way to residential development. Organizers say one reason they believe the fair, as well as other fairs in the region, thrive is because people realize the valuable lessons youths learn from raising livestock.

The livestock barns were filled with cattle, goats and pigs Sunday as owners of the animals began preparing them for show.

Emily Olley, 17, of Kearnesyville, W.Va., and Ashleigh Carlton, 14, of Jefferson, Md., were nestled in a pile of straw with a group of Holstein cattle in one of the barns.

The chore of the day?

Ear cleaning.

The girls pushed baby wipes deep into the ears of the animals.

"They have to look their best," Olley said.

In another nearby barn, Texas longhorn cattle stared out from their stall.

Shari Lopez, whose children raise the longhorns on their farm on Blue Ridge Mountain in Jefferson County, said the animals are not common in the area.

Lopez believes the reason is because farmers in the area are not very familiar with them.

But the animals are popular for their beef, which is low in cholesterol, Lopez said.

"I don't particularly like the meat," Lopez said.

In addition to livestock, needlecraft, artwork, photography and produce is exhibited at the fair.

On Sunday, white potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, onions, eggs, beets, cabbage, sunflower and black walnuts lined exhibit shelves in one of the buildings.

Tonight, one of the big attractions will be a ride-all-night special for $15 in the carnival area.

The winners are...

The winners are ...

- Storme Shiley of Charles Town, W.Va., was crowned the 2003 Miss Jefferson County Fair Sunday night, according to fair officials.

- On Saturday, Madeline Nace, 5, of Charles Town, was named Little Miss Jefferson County Fair. The contest is for girls ages 4-6.

- On Sunday, Janet Walther, 8, of Charles Town, was named Junior Miss Jefferson County Fair. That contest is for girls ages 7-10.

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