WELLSBURG — Held this weekend, the Brooke County Fair offered visitors a mix of entertainment, education, food and fun.
It was a return for the fair which, like many community events, was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
But the fairgrounds at Brooke Hills Park were occupied by a variety of craft and food vendors and entertainers who sang, danced and performed tricks on the fair’s stage or while strolling among attendees.
A highlight of the fair since it was revived in 2003 has been a tug of war involving teams of third and fourth graders from each of the county’s primary schools. With the consolidation of the county’s schools in recent years, the event has been altered to include homerooms from the two schools with those grades: Brooke Intermediate North in Follansbee and Brooke Intermediate South in Wellsburg.
This year a team comprised of pupils from the homerooms of Janice Jackson, Joseph Farran and Christina Kerns at Brooke Intermediate South and coached by teacher David Secrist emerged the winner.
Scott Donohew, the school’s principal, said each of three teams from the school competed in Kerns’ name to honor the late teacher, who died on Sept. 8, so her name would appear on the event’s traveling trophy.
Donohew said Kerns, who worked up to Sept. 3 despite health issues, “was a super person. She gave more of herself than anybody I know.”
Teams from the homerooms of Marla Hileman, Nicole Croce and Ashleigh Gurskey represented Brooke Intermediate North.
The tug of war was among many competitions at the fair, which ranged from a demolition derby and truck mud race to contests testing participants’ ability at hula hooping or eating mass quantities of pie, pizza or hot dogs in a short amount of time.
Asked what she enjoyed most about the three-day event, Janet Crawford of Wellsburg said, “I love everything about the fair. I’m just glad they had it this year.”
Crawford was among fairgoers who admitted the food was a big draw, with roasted corn and fresh cut fries among her favorites.
Members of Kings Creek Union Chapel of Weirton were among nonprofit groups with food and other booths at the fair.
Among other foods, they were selling slaw dogs, a favorite in many parts of southern West Virginia. Patrons of their booth could have their frankfurters topped with coleslaw, chili, onions, ketchup, mustard or all of the above, served on a large hoagie bun to contain so many toppings.
Russ Buchanan, the church’s pastor, said it was the second year the church has participated in the fair, adding it serves both to raise funds and to get the church’s name out to potential new members.
Robin Snyder was among many manning Wellsburg United Methodist Church’s booth, selling assorted food, including four types of fudge made by fellow member Nancy Colley.
At its booth the church also accepted prayer requests and offered booklets with prayers people could use for various reasons.
“We’ve been coming ever since they brought it (the fair) back,” said Snyder.
New to the fair was an agriculture pavilion that offered children an opportunity to learn about farming and related topics through interactive displays, including a simulation of milking a cow.
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 purchased assorted produce from local farmers, and visitors were invited to help themselves to a limited number of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, apples and other produce.
Gantzer said residents often don’t realize commercial farmers are part of their local economy.
She noted 21 Northern Panhandle farms participate in the department of agriculture’s West Virginia Grown program, which uses branding to help West Virginia farmers to promote awareness of their product.
Gantzer added farmers in the region use a total of 24 high tunnels, greenhouse like structures to grow fruits and vegetables in cooler months.
Hervey-Farris worked with the late Ruby Greathouse to bring the West Virginia Conservation Agency’s Soil 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 lily pad roots dangling from the “lake” painted on its ceiling. One area of the trailer shows the impact of hazardous material and litter on the soil and its inhabitants.
Also participating were several groups with information, clothing and artifacts related to the American Revolution, World War II, 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.