66th annual Berkeley County Youth Fair opened Friday with crowning of 2013 Fair Queen

August 03, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Jillian OConnell, a 16-year-old junior at Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School, was crowned 2013 Berkeley County Youth Fair Queen on Friday night during the opening of the fair at the Berkeley County Youth Fair Grounds in Martinsburg, W.Va.
By Richard F. Belisle

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Judges will keep busy this week picking winners among 642 exhibitors showing more than 2,000 exhibits — about 1,000 each between farm animals in the barns and projects in the Exhibit Hall — during the 66th annual Berkeley County Youth Fair.

The fair opened Friday night with the crowning of the 2013 Fair Queen.

Jillian O’Connell, a 16-year-old junior at Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School, was crowned queen from a field of 18 contestants, said Barbara Frankenberry, a pageant organizer.

O’Connell was first runner-up in the 2012 competition.

Her main duty during fair week will be handing out ribbons to winners.

“There are tons of categories,” she said. “I can’t be everywhere at once, so Jessica McDonald, the first runner-up, will be my go-to person all week.”

All four runners-up in the pageant will help O’Connell with her ribbon-presentation responsibilities, Frankenberry said.

The inside exhibits were judged Saturday afternoon. Livestock were brought in and market animals were weighed.

Sunday, the dog show begins at 12:30 p.m., followed by the sheep show at 3 p.m. O’Connell and her court will hand out ribbons at both events.

O’Connell entered a lined and belted cape she designed and sewed for the 4-H Style Show, and a recycling project for the indoor exhibit competition.

Only members of Berkeley County youth groups — 4-H, Boy and Girl Scouts, Future Farmers of America and the Boys and Girls Club of Martinsburg & Berkeley County — can show exhibits at the fair, Frankenberry said.

The youths learn how to start working with an animal or on a project, work on it for a year to its fruition and exhibit it, Frankenberry said.

“They put a lot into it,” she said. “They learn about life’s experience, whether it be a joy or a disappointment.”

Dawn Pingley is in her first year as president of the fair, one of more than 200 volunteers who make it work every year. Nobody is paid, and all profits are pumped back into the grounds, buildings and operating expenses.

This year, major renovations and expansions were done to the hog and rabbit barns. They were needed to accommodate a growing number of exhibitors, Pingley said.

Also new this year is a canned food drive. A tent has been set up to collect the food, which will be given to a local nonprofit that will share food with the school district and food pantries, Pingley said.

“It’s a way the fair can give back to the community,” she said.

Pingley said between 4,000 and 5,000 patrons are expected to pass through the gate each day.

The fair’s carnival opens Sunday through Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. A single ticket for all rides costs $20.

The Berkeley County Youth Fair Grounds, on Golf Course Road, opens Sunday at 10 a.m., then opens at 8 a.m. each day through Saturday.

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