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County Fair Celebrates 155 Years

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Randolph – The Portage County Randolph Fair concluded another successful season this week, celebrating its 155th year with the theme of “Boots & Jeans in 2013.”

A nearly weeklong festival of events kicked off bright and early on Tuesday morning with the crowning ceremony of the Horse King and Queen in the park gazebo, which is located just about as “in the center of it all” as a visitor could be. Throughout the coming days, spectators were invited into the sprawling fairgrounds where they could explore, among other intrigues, seemingly endless stables housing stalls full of various livestock. Dairy cows, beef cows, horses in sizes from little to big to even bigger, pigs, goats, sheep, and even the everyday man’s best friends that are puppy dogs made not-so-everyday by a doggie costume contest rounded out the parade of four-legged creatures. Horse shows in several categories and livestock judging added even more flair to the non-human attendees, bringing the animals and their people together to show what they could do and decorating the victorious with all manner of awarded ribbons and trophies for their efforts. Artists, bakers, quilters, collectors, fashion designers and musicians also shared their talents with several of the buildings framing examples of the many ways a county resident could spend free time. The grandstand played host to an array of special events as well including the fan-favorite demolition derby and tractor pulls. Various Boy and Girl Scout Troops and 4-H groups showed off the skills they have been learning with well-designed exhibits showcasing recent projects, progressing in the latter’s stated motto “To Make the Best Better”.

Randolph6Other notable highlights of the experience were the entries into the scarecrow competition: some were quite scary – downright fearful! – and others were just plain cute! Entrants seemed to really take pride in presentation, embracing not only the fair’s theme but coordinating creatively within their own products as well. An entire corner dedicated to shiny apples made a silent but quite effective allusion to the important role such a fruit played in the story of a fair maiden we all know as Snow White. Just a guess, but it’s probably safe to say the apples on display were a little more consumer-friendly.

Booths representing different area vendors lined the walls in the Merchant Building and educated visitors about local treasures such as honey-producing bees, safety programs through nearby law enforcement agencies and community resources such as the Portage County District Library which has one of its branches in Randolph and recently opened a new public computer lab in Deerfield.

Entertainment options were plentiful and included an Elvis impersonator, cloggers, country-music karaoke and, in honor of Friday being “Senior Citizens’ and Veterans’ Day,” a special tribute program complete with singing celebration of our armed forces past and present.

Of course no county fair would be complete without the abundant offerings of food stands and carnival rides. (Though any seasoned fair-goer will tell you it’s definitely wiser to get your fill of the rides before indulging in all the greasy, fried, sugary goodness obtained from the treat trucks!) Whether this was the first year of attendance or the next in a long-standing tradition for any given individual, it’s easy to see why the natives keep coming back for more.

To discover even more about this local farmers’ festival, or to find out how to be involved next year, visit http://www.randolphfair.com/ or call the fair office at (330) 325-7476.

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In addition to her role as a contributing reporter for the Weekly Villager, Mialie T. Szymanski is the creator of the bi-weekly column “Puppy Tails”. This children’s story time column stars Doodle Dog, a floppy-eared puppy who has an optimistic perspective of the world around him. Szymanski's picture book “Doodle Dog Enjoys the Day” chronicles a day in the life of this “paws”itive pup. The upcoming read-aloud anthology “Puppy Tails: Adventures of Doodle Dog” is a collection of the columns and illustrations as seen in The Weekly Villager over the last year.