Summer heat does not deter fairgoers

MINERAL WELLS – The heat index was around 100 degrees but that didn’t stop eager fairgoers from saddling up to ride trains and amusement rides and win prizes on the first day of the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition Tuesday.

Organizers didn’t see a record number of visitors to the Butcher Bend fairgrounds on Tuesday, but there were plenty still interested in the activities the fair had to offer.

“It’s warm but we had a good crowd this morning for the junior royalty pageants,” Russ Collins, vice president of the West Virginia Interstate Fair Board, said Tuesday night. “Today was senior citizens day and even with the heat we’ve had a lot of senior citizens around.”

Collins said the air conditioned building has been a place for guests to go to cool off and then go back to the outdoor activities.

“I think everybody was a little sick of the rain and being stuck in the house,” said fair board member Angie Zoller. “We’re trying to get anybody who hasn’t come across the new bridge yet to come out and see it.”

The last couple weeks brought a flurry of activity to try to get things ready for the big day, Collins said.

Jody Harris of Mineral Wells said she brought her niece, Mallory Marks, to ride the rides and see the animals.

“We’ve done all kinds of rides, games; we’re 4-Hers so we do it all,” Harris said.

Marks said her favorite rides included the Tilta-whirl and Orbiter.

Jennifer Lee of Parkersburg brought her three children to the fair for a few hours Tuesday afternoon. She said her youngest son, Bryson, was able to ride the train but had to wait for his older siblings when it came to the larger rides.

Her other children, 10 and 11 years old, were interested in the “big kid” activities, she said.

“The train is pretty much the only thing he can ride,” Lee said of her 2-year-old son.

Roger and Francis Loughry of Mineral Wells said they try to visit the fair at least once every year. Roger said he lives down the street from the festival and the pair were interested in anything from the four-wheelers to sitting in the bingo tent.

“We tried to come a little closer to evening time,” he said. “But if (the weather) stays like this it will be OK for us.”

Kevin Rippeto said he was selling frozen lemonade for a friend at the fairgrounds Tuesday. His son, Dylon, a Parkersburg South High senior, was helping with selling the treat by staying cool by the fan.

“We haven’t been as busy as we’ve liked,” he said Tuesday night. “Everybody coming in and getting set up for the first day; we’re hoping it will pick up from 6 to 11 (p.m.).”

Jessica Thompson of Vienna and 4-year-old Triston Kayton were enjoying the prizes and having fun.

“It’s awesome,” Thompson said. “We’re having fun.”