All’s Fair in Belmont County

Photos by Robert A. DeFrank Ava McFarland, left, and Elly Castello display cattle at the beef barn Wednesday during the Belmont County Fair.

The Belmont County Fair celebrated its grand opening Wednesday during its 169th year.

Soon after the noon ribbon cutting, fairgoers were walking among the displays while youth proudly presented their accomplishments in showing the farm animals they have raised.

Crystal Antill, 4-H program assistant for the Ohio University Extension Office, introduced fair volunteers and invited the fair royalty to introduce themselves.

“The competition was very tight this year,” Antill said. “They did a phenomenal job.”

“This is the backbone of our fair,” said fair board member David Jones.

Belmont County Commissioner J.P. Dutton, representing commissioners at the fair, also spoke as a former 4-H member. He said the lessons they have learned in completing their projects will remain with them well into adulthood.

“If there’s only one reason someone comes out to the fair, it should be to support these kids,” Dutton said. “A lot of hard work was put into this fair.”

He also recognized state and local elected officials, including representatives from the office of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, state Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, and state Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction.

Jones also thanked the Belmont County Correctional Institution and Warden David Gray for providing inmates to prepare the grounds in the weeks preceding the fair. Gray said the horticulture program has benefited inmates looking for career skills and the communities they help.

“We’ve been a family tradition since 1849, and I think it says a lot that we’re still a family tradition,” added fair board President Debbie Ault. “Belmont County Junior Fair is an outstanding program. We have a wonderful Junior Fair Board. These kids come out, and no matter what we ask they to do, they’re right there…We’re here to showcase the most outstanding youth in the state, and we’re here to promote agriculture.”

The fair will continue through Sept. 9 at the fairgrounds, 45420 Roscoe Road, St. Clairsville.

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