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Fair offers old-fashioned and low-cost fun

September 16, 2012
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

NEW MANCHESTER - The many who turned out Saturday for the Hancock County Oldtime Fair at Tomlinson Run Park found a variety of food, crafts, games and entertainment as well as sunshine and a bright blue sky that helped to accentuate the park's scenic beauty.

Lisa Virden, president of the fair board, said the weather was not as pleasant on Friday evening, when steady rain fell on the parade of tractors that proceeded along state Route 8 and U.S. Route 30 to the park, but turnout was good nonetheless.

Each year the parade helps to open and close the fair, which ends at 5 p.m. today. Before that, the fair will include a classic car show, duck race sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs, cornhole tournament and various picnic-style games that make up the Barnyard Olympics.

Article Photos

Warren Scott
GO FISH — Front to back: Benjamin Halicki, 6; Miriam Halicki, 3; and Elijah Halicki, 8; enjoyed a fishing game offered by A Child’s Place Court-Appointed Special Advocate program Saturday at the Hancock County fair, which they attended with their mother, Shannon, of Wheeling. The fair continues today with a classic car show, cornhole tournament and many other games and an assortment of food, crafts, agricultural displays and live entertainment.

The entertainment schedule includes Bud Simmons at noon, the band Spinning Jenny at 1 p.m., the Joseph Sisters at 2 p.m. and the band Route 45 at 3 p.m.

Admission is $1. Tractor shuttles provide rides to the fairgrounds from a parking area just beyond the park on Osage Road off state Route 8.

Virden said today's visitors still will have a chance to vote on which Hancock County Commissioner they would like to see kiss a donkey at 2 p.m.

"We've been showing lots of pictures of the commissioners to the donkey and he seems to like them all," she joked.

Virden said, over the last four years, various local officials have been good sports in agreeing to kiss a donkey to raise funds for the fair. They included Chester Police Chief Ken Thorn, Chester Fire Chief John Hissam and Linda Robinson, former principal of Chester Elementary School.

Many fairgoers this weekend also have been willing to look a little silly all in the name of good fun by participating in the apple pie-eating and watermelon seed-spitting contests, potato sack races and other games that comprise the Barnyard Olympics.

Virden said she and other fair organizers took time Saturday to acknowledge the efforts of Rich Hoffman, a volunteer sound technician and frequent bluegrass musician at the fair who died from cancer in June.

A plaque of appreciation bearing his photo was presented to Hoffman's family as well as a contribution to the scholarship fund established in his name.

A stroll through the fairgrounds revealed an assortment of food and crafts, including many hand-made seasonal decorations, for sale.

Selling hot dogs, soft drinks and bottled water at one booth were volunteers with the Hancock County Historical Museum.

Linda McNeil, the museum's president, said October will a busy and enjoyable month for the group. A celebration of the museum's 125th anniversary from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 6 will include a tea and other activities, while the museum's Children's Play Day will be held from 2-4 p.m. Oct. 22.

Children attending the latter event will get a feel for the work and play experienced by children at the turn of the century, from washing clothes with a wooden washboard to playing checkers, dominos and other games.

McNeil added the annual reading of works of Edgar Allan Poe by Kelsey Hayward, a drama teacher at Oak Glen High School, will return for two nights around Halloween.

Robin Weltner of the Oak Glen Touchdown Club was selling T-shirts, hats and spirit towels bearing the Oak Glen High School Golden Bears' insignia and colors.

Weltner said the club provided half the cost for the team's new home uniforms and has helped financially with the helmets, food served to the players and other expenses.

"I started here with the Oak Glen Junior High Boosters so I kind of just flowed into the high school club, too. This is always a good money-maker for us. All of the proceeds go to the team," she said.

Elsewhere Isaiah and Garrett Arehart of New Manchester were studying the frenzied activity of honey bees displayed by Joe and Suzan Kovaleski of Buena Vista Honey Farms of Steubenville as Joe told them about the habits of bees and their vital role in the economy.

"We wouldn't have one-third of our food supply without bees because of their pollination," he said.

The boys' mother, Janet, said her sons also enjoyed entering watermelon-eating, skillet-throwing and other contests held there.

The fair's variety of food, crafts and other attractions appealed to attendees of all ages.

Alvin Feinman of Colliers said these days his diet is more restricted, but he still enjoys the fair's various sights.

"I try to come every year. There's a lot of wonderful things," he said.

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