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Organizers pleased with Berkeley County Youth Fair attendance

August 09, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Given the economy, attendance for the 62nd Berkeley County Youth Fair might fall short of totals from previous years, but organizers seem confident that the eight-day event would be a success, given its continued focus on young people and tradition.

Total fair attendance in years past has been about 30,000, Daniel said.

Through the first fair's first six days, Publicity Director Becky Daniel said Friday that the bull-riding event on Thursday helped make it the biggest night through the first six days of the fair.

On Thursday, fair officials said more than 4,600 people paid admission, which doesn't include exhibitors and others who are not charged, said Daniel, estimating the total attendance was about 5,300.

"We were frying french fries and hamburgers as fast we could," said Daniel, who said she helped out in the concession stand.

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Limiting the age of exhibitors from 9 to 21 continues to be rarity among fairs in the nation, according to Steve Linton, former fair board president.

"We like to keep it total youth," said Linton, 59, who first showed animals at the Youth Fair when he was 9 or 10 years old. "I hope it remains that way."

Linton said the fair has been fortunate over the years, noting the organization's successful effort to locate at what now is known as Harry D. Shelley Park.

He credited camaraderie among volunteers and fair board leaders for helping construct most of the buildings on the fairgrounds.

Daniel said the leadership of 4-H and FFA clubs and other youth groups over the years has been instrumental in keeping participation high among young people.

While agriculture has diminished in the county, youth participation remains strong, according to fair organizers.

There are no commercial swine producers left in the county, but 101 hogs were exhibited this year, according to fair organizers.

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