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County fair is the highlight of the year in Taylor

by Bob Stealey

Editor

Probably the biggest activity of the entire year in Taylor County is the Taylor County Fair, usually held during the month of August and always a crowd-drawer.

In Bob'n'Along today, I'd like to briefly explore a bit of the background of the fair. I am using as my reference "A History of Taylor County, West Virginia," compiled and published in 1986 by the Taylor County Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., in Grafton. The copy was lent to me by my good friend, Teresa Morris of Webster.

The fair began as a community project, and now, more than a half-century later, it is still being coordinated by a large group of volunteers who get no compensation for their considerable time and effort. Basically, it seems to be "a labor of love."

The very first fair was held back in 1939 at a location on West Main Street beside the Woodyard Lumber Company. That first event featured some livestock and homemaking exhibits, as well as a few food booths. But alas, the size of the event was limited by the available space.

Some time later, the fair moved to Maple Avenue, where the Taylor County school bus garage would later be located. Events were held there for a few years until a second move was made to the baseball field behind Grafton High School on Riverside Drive.

A third -- and final -- move was made to a location on the edge of the state farm property near Pruntytown.

"The board of directors and the fair patrons found this location much to their liking, and a decision was soon made to purchase the land for a permanent fair site.

"Buildings were added to the site as funds became available, including a cattle barn, a 4-H and homemaker-exhibit barn, concession booths, and finally restroom and shower facilities.

"During the early years, funds were raised for new additions by board members who sponsored square dances at the fairgrounds every Saturday night."

According to the account on the fair in the book, written by Tina Bolyard, a large dirt track that provides a spot for the demolition derby -- one of the highlights of the annual event -- was added through minor excavation of the property. The track also accommodates horseracing, pony-pulling, tractor-driving and other competitions.

In more recent years, the attractions that are available during Fair Week include a large carnival on the midway, live entertainment by at least three top-name country music personalities, and livestock shows and sales, including market hogs, lambs and baby beef.

"Commercial exhibit booths have also become a popular drawing card at the fair, with businessmen and women selling everything from toys and balloons to jewelry, farm equipment and mobile homes."

The Taylor County Fair is held each year during the first full week of August. Registration of exhibits begins on the Sunday, and the fair concludes on the following Saturday with a gigantic fireworks display.

n n n

I may be all alone in this, but has anyone else wondered when the two large signs on the Clarksburg Parking Garage will be taken down? Remember, they were erected three years ago to inform travelers using the Second Street ramp of the Clarksburg Expressway (from the east) and the Third Street ramp (for travelers from the west) of the May 22 town hall visit by President Clinton in Clarksburg.

Well, unless I'm mistaken, that historic time has come and gone, and that president has been named in articles of impeachment, although allowed to remain in office. Perhaps if I were a first-time Clarksburg visitor, my first impression would be to wonder just how often the public servants of the community check their calendars.

n n n

Whew! I don't know about you, but I'm totally exhausted. I mean, wouldn't you be tired, too, if you'd just finished a March of 31 days? (Come to think of it, I could very likely stand to take a march of an hour or so per day.)

One further note ... beware the pranksters. Tomorrow is April Fool's Day!

Have a wild, wonderful weekend, but a safe one! More on Sunday.

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