It is said that the show must go on and, despite quite the heavy down pour, the show certainly did just that at the Portage County Randolph Fair which recently showcased locals “Livin’ the Dream 2014” during its 156th season.
Clear skies and sunshine shone at various points during the weeklong festivities, encouraging visitors to take their time perusing a wide variety of skills on display ranging from handmade crafts and artwork to homegrown and kitchen-preserved produce to aptitude with raising and training animals.
Though there were exceptional events continually on the schedule, a few days were designated with special themes such as the Kids’ Day on Thursday, which is when those same sunny skies opened up for an impromptu rainstorm unfortunately drenching the spectators but fortunately serving as a way to cool down the late summer heat. Nevertheless, those present enjoyed the cornucopia of offerings that included amusement rides, a K-9 demonstration, mini horse shows, Little Squirts tractor races and “make and take” activities geared just for the younger crowd. Friday acknowledged senior citizens and veterans with free admission and spotlighted entertainers reminiscent of the good ole days such as Elvis (well, an impersonator at least) and the not-at-all-minuscule sounds of the Akron Big Band.
Festival fans had the opportunity to explore the plethora of participants throughout several different styles of venues whether in the barn stables corralling cows (beef and dairy alike) or the aforementioned mini horses and their not-so-mini counterparts; livestock pens housing sheep, goats, pigs and even alpacas; or exhibit buildings presenting everything from flower arrangements, sewing selections and fine art to a veritable rainbow of delectable edibles in the form of jams and jellies, wine (red, white, blush and dessert subcategories just to name a few), right-off-the-tree-or-bush fruits and the freshly made pies and pastries that go with them. Due to the recent trend in home brewing, a new category may be created next season for homemade beer as well giving a new twist to look forward to for those who make a tradition of fair attendance year after year. And for an extra taste of creativity, “art” projects combining ingenuity with natural materials found right in one’s garden allowed viewers to look at vegetables with a new perspective as a barrel-racing scene made out of a cucumber obstacle course was run by a cherry tomato-topped peapod “cowboy” riding a corncob “pony” protected by a green bean “fence” while another tongue-in-cheek landscape depicted an iceberg (of iceberg lettuce, of course) obstructing the world’s most famous cruise ship. The scarecrow army returned as well with one section portraying straw-stuffed likenesses of prominent inventors in history.
Regardless of which roof the products were under, ribbons were awarded fair-wide in several classes and categories and the recipients’ entries were proudly tagged with an array of blue, red, white and yellow, with large purple ruffles designating a Best in Show.
Other honorable mentionables to notice while meandering along the grounds were humorous competitions such as a rooster crowing challenge and costume contest for various types of four-legged friends in addition to the grooming games and live races that required humans and animals to team up their talents to succeed in their endeavors. Grandstand crowd favorites returned with tractor pulls, bull riding and the quintessential smash’em ups that feature the brave contestants in the Demolition Derby. And if the flashing lights and noisy sound effects didn’t draw attention to the giant contraptions on the midway, the temporarily thrilled (or terrified?) shrieks of the carnival kiddies riding high above the numerous food stands certainly did. It wouldn’t be a county fair without plenty of snack choices, namely those that are fried or on a stick, to munch while enjoying an afternoon of being hoisted by a colorful metal apparatus into the air and any festival veteran knows that successfully combining both without some kind of messy aftermath is a talent all its own!
To learn even more about this long-standing fixture in our nearby farming world, or to find out how to be involved next year, visit http://www.randolphfair.com/ or call the fair office at (330) 325-7476.