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Fair time signals a busy time

August 12, 2012
The Herald-Star

Can you believe it? The Jefferson County Fair is here. 4-H members will be receiving hard-earned awards for work done on their projects at 6 p.m. today at the Rozsa Pavilion.

This is done to free up time on Monday, when the opening program, coronation ceremonies and a talent show will be held starting at 5 p.m.

Fair board members, 4-H members, Future Farmers of America people and the general population know who I am as I wander about the fairgrounds, with a camera around my neck, reporter's pad and pen in hand and usually some kind of hat covering my head. The sun can get terribly hot as you wander about, and a hat helps.

In late May, Summer Wallace-Minger, community editor for The Weirton Daly Times, wrote a column naming me "the reigning queen of fairs." It came about as she was telling me about the Washington County Fair that she covers for the Weirton Daily Times and the Pennsylvania Focus, and I was trying to explain what was really happening.

Here is her column, see if you laugh as much as I did:

Our food editor, Esther, is the reigning queen of county fairs - not to be mistaken with the county fair queen. Her queenly rule is derived from a longtime association with local county fairs, her knowledge of their histories and her understanding of all things 4-H. She is also a frequent judge for county fair cooking and project judging contests.

Me? Not so much. My cooking is only so-so, and I barely know one end of a horse from another.

The first time I visited the Washington County Agricultural Fair, I wore slacks and heels, not the best choice, as one of the queen contestants demonstrated by wearing rubber boots beneath her formal gown - which was met with whole-hearted approval by the fair-savy audience.

Esther is quite bemused by my "fair fail" and is always trying to help me improve. She's wanted to attend the Washington County Fair with me for years - being particularly intrigued by the "Farmer's Madness and Milk Chugging" contests - but it is the same week as one of her fairs, so she can never attend.

So she missed my encounter with the Giant Angry Cow (or perhaps steer) of Doom.

"You should have seen this cow! It was huge!, Esther."

"Was it a cow or a steer?"

"I don't know. It was really big. And angry. That was one ticked-off cow. It was maybe mad because it was getting hit with a stick. It was of the bovine persuasion of that much I was certain. I mean, it had hooves, and it definitely wasn't a horse and was too big for a goat."

"Was it a show stick?"

"I don't know, it was metal and about as big around as a finger, and they were whacking the cows with them..."

"Oh, no, they were probably just stroking them. Did it have horns?"

"I don't know. I was transfixed by its big, angry cow eyes. That thing's eyes were practically spitting fire."

"Why, were you in the show ring?"

"I wasn't. I was in this barn, and I needed to talk to someone about a cow, so they told me to follow this path, it was between these metal barriers..."

"You were in the chute?"

"I don't know, this little girl - she was maybe 8 or 9 - she had this giant cow, and she was practically skiing behind it. That was a whole lotta' cow...moving fast."

"But why were you in the chute?"

"...they told me to follow the metal barriers..."

"They probably meant for you to follow on the outside."

"Anyway, it almost trampled me. It was huge and mad and moving fast - right at me. It was pretty much intent on killing me."

That pretty much stunned Esther into silence. I could tell she was shaken by my encounter with a murderous bovine.

The next day, I found a list of livestock terms on my desk and a note: "In your quest for excellent fair coverage, I thought you might like to know these livestock terms," and was signed by Esther.


Another August event I try to attend each year is the Bethel United Methodist Church Fun Fest, located on state Route 151 heading toward Jewett. The sign advertising the event could make those planning to visit a bit itchy. It publicized a great luncheon, bake sale, Christian music and fleas. I'm guessing it was short for the long tables of clothing, books, household items, holiday decorations, toys and beauty products that could be bought for a song.

Patti Sabo was everywhere at once trying to do all things for all people, and, of course, wearing her Browns baseball cap. She and Lamont were happy and congratulating each other on the new owner of the team.

Pauline Costley was taking in money for the bargains.

Barbara Walton of Carrollton was buying so much she needed Lamont to help carry things. One of her great buys was a 4-foot snowman that practically engulfed her. She was later seen having lunch with Ada Clark, a renown Harrison County artist. I always feel honored that she even remembers me. George and Helen Oklok from Upper Sandusky were with the gals as well.

Ada and I have the same taste in pie. We chose custard, a kind my mother made so well and when I make it, it turns out so wet you can almost wring it out.

Fred Maffitt and Cleve Costley were having a conversation, and I don't think it was about any bargains. Patti whispered in Cleve's ear that she placed a few bargains in their car, purchases from his wife, Pauline. That got a response.

Rebecca Rector and her mother, Denise, were in front of the microphone at the rustic entertainment building at the wooded area beside the church. I like to drive by the church in the winter as it reminds me of a Christmas card.

John Arbogast was another singer with great gospel songs.

Inside the church, there was so much food, it was hard to decide what should go on your plate.

There was creamed chicken, sloppy joes, hot sausage sandwiches and hot dogs; potato and macaroni salads; chicken noodles; baked beans; and three-bean salad and probably a few things that I missed.

John "Bugs" Vargo, Brenda Wallace, Linda Ledger and Shelby Willoughby, all church members, were working the food line.

What caught my eye was their pie table. I don't know of a pie that was excluded from the list, along with cheesecake covered with cherries. Those ladies are excellent bakers.

At the end of all that food sat Charlotte Curry with a pencil and tablet swiftly adding up prices. And you could get lots of food for little cost. Those people really rock.


I spent almost two hours with Dee Ann Horstman at the Scio Historical Museum this past week, as the committee is getting ready for its 79th- annual Fall Festival that starts Wednesday, and it is jam-packed with activities.

One of the honorees for the event will be the Jewett-Scio Alumni marching band, all decked out in their identical T-shirts. There are 100 former high school musicians who practice long hours to make the band hum as they march down Main Street. And it will happen Friday.

Dee Ann showed me the museum, and I saw the General Custer corner; a large area dedicated to the Scio Pottery that made the village famous; a section honoring veterans of the area; the former Scio High School; and then the Jewett-Scio High School memorabilia; an antique phonograph still playing music recorded on a roll of metal; an old floor model radio; the first televison in the village; and recognition of some of the people who came from Scio and went on to invent things or start businesses.

Lew Reese put Scio on the map with his pottery business. He fashioned a big cup for those in the military so they would have a large cup of coffee. This is a forerunner of the mugs that are famous now. There are commemorative mugs made up each year, and this year will honor the alumni band.

The museum is open at 5 p.m. each evening of the festival, except for Friday when it will open immediately after the parade. There is much to see and do.


In closing, I have to send out a big hug to Dorothy Robertson of Toronto. Her granddaughter, Kim Zifzal, tells me that she is my biggest fan.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at

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