Brooke County Fair offers variety for all

WELLSBURG – Each year people come to the Brooke County Fair for various reasons.

Many come for the food, many for live entertainment ranging from rock bands to mud bogs, and many come to compete or root for those participating in the variety of competitions held during the three-day event.

The fair continues today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Brooke Hills Park. The schedule includes the Cogar Family lumberjack show at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the Twins Day contest and a demolition derby at 1 p.m., and many other activities.

Admission is $5, which includes the carnival rides for children.

Many turned out Saturday for the annual tug-of-war competition involving children from the county’s seven primary schools. Each year mixed teams of boys and girls do their best to win the competition’s traveling trophy.

This year’s winner was the Jefferson Primary School team, which faced last year’s champion, the Franklin Primary School team, in the last round.

The children’s faces revealed their determination as they pulled hard on the rope as their parents, grandparents, principals, teachers and other supporters cheered them on. That tenacity also was displayed by the alternates for the various schools, as the pupils from various schools formed separate teams for a match that was just for fun.

The contest was sponsored by Brooke County Commissioners Tim Ennis, Jim Andreozzi and Norma Tarr and coordinated by Norm Schwertfeger, an agent with the Brooke County West Virginia University Extension Service.

Over the years the fair has offered contests for people of all ages and skills. This year was no different with the Brooke County Fair’s Got Talent contest added to the Brooke County Fair Idol competition to offer youth and adults a chance to display singing and other talents.

Attendance was light for the non-singing talent contest but fairgoers were treated to the graceful flips and turns of gymnast Adeyah Frazier and the fast-paced dance routine of Emma Martino, Jaclin Hedmond, Alyson Bedore and Estella Lahita, all pupils at Jefferson Primary School.

And prizes were awarded to the girls for their efforts as well as to the following winners of the Idol singing contest: Katie Black and Janae Casto, who won in the 12 and under division; and KaeLeigh Patterson and Justin Slider, who placed first and second, respectively, in the 13 and older division.

Fairgoers also had an opportunity to sample several entries in the chili cookoff in return for a dollar donation, with proceeds going to the fair.

Jeff and Stacey Wise have organized the cookoff since the fair was revived 10 years ago. But they said this will be the last and they are hoping someone will step up to continue it next year.

Each year the fair also offers churches and nonprofit groups a chance to raise money or get their name and goals out to the public.

Members of the Franklin Primary School Kids Konnection group were selling baked goods donated by parents and other community members and sharing information about the group’s activities, which have included collecting litter along a section of Wellsburg’s Yankee Trail each month.

The children’s group was formed by the school’s PTA to encourage the youth to get involved in community service, said PTA officer Kaili Ridgley.

Ridgley said last year the group collected coins from each homeroom to purchase pies for 200 families aided by the Salvation Army and local churches.

The homerooms competed to see who could raise the most money with a pizza party held for the winner, she added.

Cecilia Seabright of Wellsburg First Church of God said members of the church’s Christian Women’s Connection group know there are many local residents on tight incomes. That’s why they were offering a free hot dog, chips and bottled water to each adult or child who visited their booth.

Seabright said the women’s group supports various causes and Christian missions, local and abroad.

A variety of professional vendors also bring an assortment of food, crafts and other goods to the fair.

Fairgoers may have been surprised to find Debbie Bonuito of Wellsburg rolling dough and baking bread in a toaster oven at the booth she shares with her neighbor, Ruth Brown.

Bonuito said she sets the toaster at about 425 degrees, slightly higher than for her oven at home, and also uses it to make sourdough pancakes each morning during the fair.

The two women have worked hard to provide the assortment of produce, potted plants and baked goods they sell at the fair. Brown said after leaving the fair Friday, she baked for six hours to bring a fresh supply of cookies and other treats to the fair Saturday.

Britney Hervey Farris of Wellsburg also was on hand to roast and sell cobs of sweet corn grown on her farm.

Brown and Farris are among local farmers participating in Brooke County Farmers Markets held alternately along state Route 2 in Wellsburg and Follansbee and occasionally in Bethany.

Brown said the markets, which are organized by the Brooke County WVU Extension Service, have drawn as many as 80 to 100 visitors in recent weeks, but she’s still seeking more vendors.