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Barbour Fair looks to the future

by Paul Darst

STAFF WRITER

PHILIPPI -- On the 25th anniversary of the Barbour County Fair, officials remembered how much work it took to get the event started.

But on opening night of the fair's silver anniversary, they didn't only reminisce. They also looked toward the future.

"We're sorry about the mess over here," Barbour County Commission President Eddie Canterbury told the crowd during the opening ceremony. "The National Guard is preparing a site where we're going to erect another building -- a covered arena without a floor."

Despite rain and clouds in the morning, fairgoers were greeted this year with blue skies and a cool, late summer breeze Sunday evening.

Gov. Cecil Underwood was joined on stage during the opening ceremony by local officials and fair board members, past and present.

Underwood remembered the origins of the Barbour County Fair.

"I remember coming to the fair down on the streets of Philippi," he said.

"This has become a focal point where the community can come together."

As Underwood and other dignitaries spoke, carnival workers continued setting up rides on a hill in the background, and visitors continued to pour through the gates.

This year, fair officials expect a good turnout. Last year, between 30,000 and 35,000 visited the fair, said John Loyd, president of the fair board.

As with any fair, success depends on the weather, he said.

"We've had it pretty good for the past few years," he said. "We had a little rain last year -- just enough to settle the dust."

This year, they hope that trend continues, Loyd said.

During the day Sunday, competitors entered their exhibits. Following the opening ceremony, the Fair Queen Pageant got under way. A dozen women from the county competed for this year's crown.

The winner's name was not available at press time.

Besides the new arena, county officials also have plans for other expansions, Canterbury said.

"High on our priority list is a new exhibit hall," he said. "Hopefully, we'll have something under way, if not next year, then two year's from now."

The county also hopes to make improvements to Point Pleasant Road for better access to the fairgrounds, he said.

This year's fair will include plenty of entertainment, said Ron Schoonover, member of the fair board and entertainment chairman.

"We have all kinds of Nashville music scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday," he said.

Other highlights of the week include the Grand Feature Parade Monday, the demolition derby Tuesday, 4-H animal shows throughout the week and country music performers on the main stage.

Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404.

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