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Spielman has served Washington County Ag Expo since its inception

July 15, 2008|By JANET HEIM

SHARPSBURG - When Hal Spielman was growing up, going to the Maryland State Fair was a big deal.

"That was my vacation. I got to go to the state fair and show hogs," the 59-year-old Spielman said.

The Boonsboro High School graduate said that when he showed hogs, most of the competition was other Boonsboro youth who also showed the Ohio Improved Chesters that Spielman showed. He considered the local and state fairs a chance to compete and hang out with friends.

Growing up on the Mumma Farm in Sharpsburg, Spielman's life has revolved around agriculture. He was involved in 4-H as a youth, then became an agriculture teacher at Williamsport and Smithsburg High Schools before retiring in 2004.

A native of Washington County, Spielman graduated from high school in 1967 and then the University of Maryland. His wife, Judy, was in his high school class, but they didn't start dating until about a year after high school.

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They have been married 36 years and have two children and three grandchildren. They live in town in Sharpsburg, in a stone house that used to belong to his aunt.

Spielman helped on his father's farm, and his son still keeps cows on a friend's 8-acre property on the edge of Sharpsburg.

Hal Spielman said his children started out showing rabbits, then sheep, hogs and beef cattle. His 5-year-old granddaughter, Abigail, might show a calf in the open class at Ag Expo this year, he said.

Spielman has been on the board of directors for Washington County's Ag Expo since its inception in 1980.

The goal of Ag Expo was to ensure that 4-H youth had a place to show their animals and 4-H projects. This year, kiddie rides and larger rides such as a Ferris wheel have been added to draw a more diverse crowd.

"We're trying to get some people from the nonfarming community to look at the exhibits," said Spielman, who has been mayor of Sharpsburg since 2003.

The Ag Expo will be at Washington Country Agriculture Center on Sharpsburg Pike from July 18 to 24. This year's expo is almost a week earlier than in the past because the board didn't want the date to conflict with the Clear Spring carnival.

Spielman said his job is to work out all the logistics of the event from making sure insurance is in place to mailing Ag Expo passes to state Agriculture Board members.

"I bring everything together for the 18th," he said.

After retirement, Spielman worked for a lumber company until he was laid off, then took a part-time job with Tractor Supply Co. The job suits him well, since he likes to meet people and sees a lot of people he knows there.

The Spielmans enjoy taking short trips, with plans in the works to go to Lancaster, Pa., for a show at Sight & Sound Theatres. Hal Spielman said there's no time for a garden this year.

"With the animals, town, Ag Expo and working part time, it keeps me out of trouble," he said.

For more information about Ag Expo, call 301-432-6854.

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