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Fair among the most memorable

August 19, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

The 141st-annual Jefferson County Fair is turning out to be one of the most memorable in my 37 years of covering the event, as my grandchildren - Jessie, Matthew, Jackson and Maggie - got to experience it with me. I did five years as a correspondent before becoming a member of the Herald-Star staff.

Yup, they all went to the raising of the military flags for the Jefferson County Veterans Association, a queen's tea for the royalty of other counties to meet our present and last year's royalty and the crowning of the new king and queen.

Truthfully, Maggie was much more impressed with riding in the golf cart the fair board rented for my use - even putting a sign on it with my name and that of the Herald-Star. Another sign was given to me by Carolyn Piergallini of the publicity committee showing a blue ribbon, attesting to the fact that I was rated best.

Article Photos

Brock Koehnlein, 5, son of Bill and Tammy Koehnlein, gets a few pointers from Amber Waggoner at the Kroger cookie decorating contest during the Jefferson County Fair.
-- Esther McCoy

Back to the golf cart that had Maggie entranced. I drove three of the kids on the short trip to the Fort Friendship Veterans Museum and upon arriving, she wanted to keep on traveling, not taking in the fact that I had to take notes and a few pictures for my job.

Jackson was more interested in seeing and touching the animals. He would extend his hand a few inches and then say he couldn't do it. Then he would get brave and lightly touch the back of a goat or sheep and jump back. I admire the fact that he kept trying.

Jessie and Matthew were introduced to Jack Campbell, Ron Brandfass, Walter Jancura, Jay Kolenc, Bill Smythe, Don Richards, Paul Greene and their very own granddad, Lamont. I was proud of the way they conducted themselves with the veterans.

At the queen's tea, Maggie, who is in no way bashful, decided to get shy. She was interested in looking at the lovely gowns worn by Leah Figurski, 2011 queen, who hosted the luncheon; sisters, Brianna and Brooke Piergallini, who both share the distinction of being the junior fair princess, Brianna now and Brooke several years past; Faith Jancura, beef queen; Rachel Rector, who was later crowned 2012 queen; and Emily Lamantia, a member of the queen's court.

Ramsay Core, 2011 king, seemed quite at home with the lovely ladies, while Joel Rutan, 2012 king, and Matthew Rector, the new prince, were doing very well also. Matthew wears the greatest pastel color dress shirts with ties to match. And I have to apologize, as I wrote in my story that he was a junior at Buckeye Local High School. At 12 years old that would be quite an accomplishment. He will start in junior high school instead.

Cristy Gilmore, Coshocton fair queen, and Seth Fenton, king, were present, along with Jessica Smarrella, who prepared much of the food with her mother, Suzanne.

We have to thank Suzanne Figurski for the tray of cookies and cupcakes she sent out to my family. Choices are really strange. At Christmas, my family will leave cut-out cookies until last or not eat them at all. There was one sugar cookie on the tray, and everyone wanted it, although there were chocolate chip cookies and wonderful cupcakes to choose from.

The next day, Jessie and Matthew went to the small animals judging. They glanced at the turtle contestants, Courtney and Russ Cooley, brother and sister, and Cleo Burrows from afar. Likewise, the the bearded dragon belonging to Hunter Klinesmith. And I might note, that Amber, the eldest of the grandchildren, has a summer job at Old Navy and could not attend.

We watched a group of very young bunnies trying to snuggle into a feeding dish. Apparently they felt secure sheltered by the confines of the bowl. There were two kid goats trying to head butt through a wire fence that were cute also.

I gave Jessie a shot at taking pictures, and she did quite well. She took one of an inquisitive llama that is really precious.

We watched turkeys preen and ruffle their feathers to look almost twice their size, unlike what women want to do.

We got a bit concerned for a man who was being dragged by a "yet-to-be- grown" steer that had become really frantic.

I was wondering why no one was coming to his rescue as he struggled to quiet the animal, and Jessie was getting worried that it would come into the barn where we were standing. Help came, and the animal was taken back where it belonged when we came back through. It was something for them to go back to Lewis City and mention to their city friends.

We went to the baked goods auction, and Matthew and Jay both experienced holding up their hand to raise a bid. Harry Grafton has been the auctioneer for many years and knows how to wring a higher bid out of buyers.

Matthew was after a cake combination of three fish-shaped cakes and what resembled a bucket full of bait, being gummy worms. He went to $25 but then backed away. Jay had his eye on a chocolate/turtle cheesecake and quit after the bid went to $27.50. Learning that he liked cheesecake so well, I went to Steve, the buyer from Riesbeck's, to see if I could buy it from him for $30, and he agreed. My son went back to the Columbus area with a Smithfield cheesecake and a smile on his face.

I have never seen Matthew's eyes go as wide as they did when Sheriff Fred Abdalla got the bid for 15 red velvet cupcakes at $125 and set them on my grandson's lap and said, "They are yours." Although he was extremely pleased over the cupcakes, he was even more pleased to go back and say that he was given $125 cupcakes.

I got what I wanted in the bidding: Dawna Kale's custard pie; two dozen light and tasty yeast rolls; and a large bag of homemade noodles.

The family was delighted when Sheriff Fred asked me to take a picture of the four of them together. I know he made the day for Matthew and got the attention of the others as well. I'm glad they went away from the fair with good memories.

The next day, we went to the Kroger Cookie Decorating Contest, an event that has been going on for 20 years, and we learned from Linda Chivers that it could end this year.

For years Linda has been after me to participate in the decorating, and I declined. Lamont said it was because my reputation as a food editor was on the line, but mainly it was because I injured my hand years back and can't squeeze an icing bag hard enough to get good results.

Today she threw me to the wolves by announcing to the contestants in one class that I was going to enter the next contest. What is a decorating coward to do but take the bait?

With shaking knees, I sat down at the table with Jessie on one side and Matthew on the other. I figured if I started going down the tubes that my granddaughter could bail me out. Jay refused to participate but at the urging of Linda, Amber Waggoner and Betty Hasley, eventually was goaded into taking part.

I don't know what his problem was...he decorated ice cream cakes when he worked for Dairy Queen during his college years.

Long story short, I did fine with the Angry Bird cookie, even drew a handlebar mustache on him, and the hamburger was a cinch, although making the leaf design to look like lettuce was a bit tricky.

Then my guys announced the cookies were in my care as the trip back to Columbus would be hard on them. I toted two hamburger and two Angry Bird cookies to the Herald-Star with care and gave two to Warren Scott for his daughter, Jessica; Summer Wallace-Minger had one; and the other went to our great housekeeping engineer, Penny, for her granddaughter.

They left for home after four days of fun, food and the Jefferson County Fair, decreeing that it was a great way to end the summer vacation before school started.

Bob Alloggia, our 1954 Smithfield High School classmate, came to visit us at our Herald-Star tent, and Lamont and I talked with him about the "old days."

I was pleased when August Glenn, a member of Barshoe Wranglers 4-H, came to our tent and introduced himself. He has been one of my star reporters for 4-H, submitting photos and always having club minutes in on time. It made me feel good to see his professionalism. I will always be on the side of 4-H. It is the greatest!

(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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