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Cabell County Fair kicks off

Jul. 25, 2011 @ 12:17 AM

MILTON -- One float at a time, the city of Milton inched its way closer to a full-on farm party.

The 28th annual Cabell County Fair at West Virginia Pumpkin Park had a weekend of fun that included a horse show on Saturday and a parade on Sunday. The parade started at the old Milton Middle School before making its way down an American flag-flanked Route 60, where folks huddled in the shade of Bradford Pear trees. It featured lots of fire trucks, such politicians as Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey and many of the fair youth groups.

Ronald Stewart of Lesage and John Chapman of Ashton were doing their best to cool off the crowd -- hillbilly style.

Stewart's Model T hillbilly car has a five-gallon water cooler that can spray parade goers from about 20 feet away.

The theme this year for the fair is "There is Country in the Air." It is dedicated to Shirley Ann Jeffers, a 4-H leader who passed away June 10.

Jeffers organized the Ridge Runners 4-H club and was their leader for 20 years. The chair person of the Market Lambs, Jeffers was instrumental in working with the Market Lambs and Special Lambs programs at the Fair.

While the carnival rides don't get started until Tuesday, Monday kicks off fair week.

All livestock, except for hogs, which were checked in Sunday night, will be checked in from 8 to 10 a.m. Monday.

From 1 to 9 p.m. Monday is the entry check-in time for all crafters, quilters, bakers, gardener and farmers. Questions about the check-in should be directed to Mary Adkins 304-743-3753 or to Betty Enslin at 304-743-3200.

Gates will open at 3 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. Monday. A corn hole tournament is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., sponsored by the Junior Fair Board. There is a special admission of $3 for Monday (as there is no carnival). Food and craft vendors will be open.

Monday night's main attractions include the Queen and Teen Pageant on the main stage and livestock judging in the multipurpose building at 7:30 p.m.

After years of being held at the Huntington Mall, this is the third year in a row the pageants have been held at the fair, said Gretchen Pingley, who organizes the two days of pageants.

To let folks know about the pageants, Pingley and a number of contestants were walking the parade route to hand out candy.

"I just think it's been a great thing to do because everyone wants to see the queen crowned, and they get to see the queen crowned at the fair," Pingley said. "I think we get more people involved when they can actually see it happen. For the kids, they get to do the pageant on Tuesday and then can go ride the rides at the fair."

On Tuesday, pageants will continue with the newborn to 24 months old pageant at 5:30 p.m. and the children's pageant at 6:30 p.m. on the main stage.

Current queen Miranda Lovejoy said she's had a wonderful year of growth representing at the fair and other pageants, such as this winter's West Virginia Fairs and Festivals pageant in Charleston.

Lovejoy, who also has served as the pre-teen and teen winner in previous years, said being queen was an amazing experience as she got to introduce country music singer Trent Tomlinson last year, get a $500 scholarship and dive into all the fun that is the fair.

Nothing could beat the fun of the Junior Fair Board games last year, in which she did the watermelon seed spitting contest and raced teen queen Cassidy Conn barefoot through the mud bog area.

Tuesday will kick off the first night of the carnival, and the main attraction is motocross racing at 7 p.m.

Chris Preston, vice president of the fair board, said they've got a whole lot of family fun events packed into the 86-acre Pumpkin Park, which boasts some seven buildings, two large picnic shelters, permanent restroom facilities and the $400,000, 12,000-square-foot entertainment building that is air-conditioned.

"We have that new entertainment building, so you're not out in a tent in a field, you're in the air conditioning, and that's great," Preston said. "The grounds are looking good, and we've got really nice buildings that we really take care of."

Fair board president Jack Massie said Sunday that it takes at least 50 to 60 volunteers to get everything prepped on the grounds.

"I hope everything's ready cause the fair is here," Massie said waiting on the parade Sunday. "But we've got a lot of people, and everyone takes care of their own part."

Massie said it looks like the weather is going to cooperate, as forecasts are for the temps to come down into the high 80s from last week's near record heat wave.

"I'm glad this next week looks like it will cool down a bit. That will be a big help," Massie said. "They're moving the animals in the next two days, and the heat can really impact the animals just like it does us."

Preston said there's lots of fair favorites like car-bashing derbies and an old-time draft horse pull to new daily attractions like the running of the mini bulls, new vendors, more crafts and, of course, lots of great entertainment inside the air-conditioned Entertainment Building. Events there include a Fair Idol contest on Wednesday, a gospel night on Thursday, Kala DeHart and Rivertown and Elixir on Friday and a double-shot of national act country with Matt Stillwell and Jamie O'Neal and fireworks on Saturday.

Cabell County Commissioner Bob Bailey said they increased the county's money to the fair from $6,000 to $10,000 and the Pumpkin Festival in Milton because they've both provided such a great, local outlet of fun for families and kids.

"There's really great things, and something for everyone whether it be at the track or in the barns or at the carnival or eating," Preston said. "We have a new vendor coming in we're excited about -- Steaktips, it's phenomenal -- and we have traditional vendors with corn dogs and the Lion's Club with their potatoes. So there's many reasons to come to the fair whether it is entertainment or a kid wanting to look at the animals. There's so many things you just can't take it all in."



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