WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Fair, held September 10-12, provided visitors with a mix of entertainment, education, food and entertainment.
It was a comeback for the fair which, like many community events, was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
But the Brooke Hills Park fairgrounds were busy with a variety of craft and food vendors and artists who sang, danced, and performed tricks on the fair stage or while walking among the attendees.
A highlight of the fair since its resumption in 2003 has been a standoff involving teams of third and fourth graders from each of the county’s elementary schools. With the consolidation of county schools in recent years, the event has been changed to include classrooms from two schools with these ratings: Brooke Intermediate North in Follansbee and Brooke Intermediate South in Wellsburg.
This year, a team of students from the main classes of Janice Jackson, Joseph Farran and Christina Kerns at Brooke Intermediate South and coached by teacher David Secrist came out the winner.
Scott Donohew, the principal of the school, said each of the school’s three teams competed on behalf of Kerns to honor the late teacher, who died on September 8, to have her name featured on the traveling trophy of the event.
Donohew said Kerns, who worked until September 3 despite health issues, “She was a great person. She gave more of herself than anyone I know.
The homeroom teams of Marla Hileman, Nicole Croce and Ashleigh Gurskey represented Brooke Intermediate North.
Tug of war was among the many competitions held at the fair, which ranged from a demolition derby and truck race in the mud to contests testing participants’ ability to hula hoop or eat massive amounts of pie, pizza or hot dogs in no time.
When asked what she enjoyed most about the three-day event, Wellsburg’s Janet Crawford said: “I like everything about the fair. I’m just glad they got it this year.
Crawford was among those fairground goers who admitted food was a big draw, with roasted corn and fresh-cut French fries among his favorites.
Members of Kings Creek Union Chapel of Weirton were among the nonprofit groups with food and other stalls at the fair.
Among other foods, they sold slaw dogs, a favorite in many parts of southern West Virginia. Customers at their booth could have their Frankfurters topped with coleslaw, chili, onion, ketchup, mustard, or all of the above, served on a large hoagie bun to hold so many toppings.
Russ Buchanan, the church’s pastor, said this was the second year the church has participated in the fair, adding that it serves both to raise funds and to publicize the church’s name to potential new members.
Robin Snyder was one of many at the Wellsburg United Methodist Church booth, selling a variety of foods, including four types of fudge made by her colleague Nancy Colley.
At its booth, the church also accepted prayer requests and offered prayer booklets that people could use for a variety of reasons.
“We’ve been coming since they brought it back (the fair)”, Snyder said.
New to the fair was an agricultural pavilion that gave children the opportunity to learn about agriculture and related topics through interactive exhibits, including a simulated cow milking.
Local farmer and agricultural educator Britney Hervey-Farris said several state agencies and local businesses came together to support the pavilion, which included a free farmers market supported by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture .
Kacey Gantzer, northern regional planning coordinator for the department, said the department purchases a variety of produce from local farmers and visitors are encouraged to help themselves to a limited number of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, apples. and other products.
Gantzer said residents often don’t realize that commercial farmers are part of their local economy.
She noted that 21 Northern Panhandle farms participate in the Department of Agriculture’s West Virginia Grown program, which uses branding to help West Virginia farmers market their product.
Gantzer added that farmers in the area use a total of 24 high tunnels, greenhouse-like structures to grow fruits and vegetables during the colder months.
Hervey-Farris worked with the late Ruby Greathouse to bring the West Virginia Conservation Agency Ground Tunnel Trailer to the fair.
The walls inside the trailer depict the various insects and other wildlife that live underground, with an artificial turtle and water lily roots hanging down from the “Lake” painted on its ceiling. An area of the trailer shows the impact of hazardous materials and waste on the soil and its inhabitants.
Several groups also participated with information, clothing, and artifacts related to the American Revolution, WWII, the Middle Ages, and women throughout history.
Behind the three-day event was a volunteer committee led by Co-Chairs Janice McFadden and Patty Lish and Co-Secretaries Cathy Hervey and Lynette Stanley.