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County fair an annual tradition for Pa. couple

August 24, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Melvin and Betty Brant had a really good day Tuesday at the Fulton County Fair.

While Betty watched, Melvin Brant Sr. accepted the Supreme Champion banner for a 5-year-old Ayrshire named Brant's Homestead Tri-Brittany.

"It took me 30 years to get one of these banners," said Melvin Brant, 57. "I've come close before."

To determine a Supreme Champion, the Grand Champions of each dairy breed are paraded around the ring together and the judge chooses the overall champion.

All but one of the seven dairy animals the Brants brought to the fair won blue ribbons; one won a red ribbon. They have 25 Ayrshires on their 6-acre farm.


Melvin is retired from AGY in Huntingdon, Pa.

The Shirleysburg, Pa., residents were celebrating their 32nd anniversary Tuesday.

"That was our honeymoon, going to the Fulton County Fair," said Betty.

The annual fair is a big event in the small, mountain-ringed community between Chambersburg, Pa., and Breezewood, Pa. Flowers are planted in front of the barns, which are full of clean, well-tended horses, cows, pigs, steers, goats, sheep and rabbits.

The Brants visit the fair every year on their anniversary, even if they happen to be at another event that week, Betty said. They always eat in the same restaurant in McConnellsburg where they ate on their wedding night.

On their 11th anniversary, they bought a raffle ticket at the fair and won a baby pig, which they raised and butchered.

Betty Brant knows all the cows and their pedigrees, ancestry, eating habits and everything else about them. She keeps the farm's records and feeds the calves and heifers.

In fact, Betty Brant is so close to them that when her husband sold the herd recently, she couldn't sleep all night.

"They're like my kids," she said.

In the end, the cows got only a trailer ride and one night in the new owner's barn; Melvin brought them home the next morning.

"He tells people he had a 12-hour vacation," she said.

The Brants are living in their 27-foot camper on the fairgrounds this week.

In the closet are the white show clothes their six children wore. Some of their 14 grandchildren now wear them to parade their animals around the show ring.

Two of the grandchildren, Marlayna Brant, 8, of Mount Union, Pa., and Dennis Thompson, 12, of Warriors Mark, Pa., showed the Junior Champion and Reserve Junior Champion, respectively, Betty Brant said.

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