Locals ready for fair to begin

MARIETTA – In her second year of showing lambs, 10-year-old Molly Ketchum already exhibits all the trappings of a seasoned fair veteran.

In 2012, Ketchum, of Marietta, a member of the Lynch Combined Junior 4-H Club, won showmanship and third in market class with her lamb.

Although she doesn’t know how she’ll do either in the competition or the large animal sale Tuesday night, she was philosophical after unloading her lamb Friday afternoon at the Washington County Fairgrounds and giving the animal a quick bath.

“We’ll do pretty good, but everyone has a good shot at winning,” she said.

After various weigh-in, registrations and setting up all the tents, concessions and the midway’s rides and games Friday afternoon and into the night, the 194th fair officially gets under way today after the 10 a.m. parade.

While all the setup is happening, most folks participating in the fair were keeping an eye on the sky, the radar and the weather forecast.

“They are calling for rain,” said Brad Mason, 49, of Lowell, a member of the Large Animal Committee, who was helping to register cattle, sheep and goats. “It won’t hurt the animal shows if it rains. It’ll hurt attendance.”

In 2011, when the weekend was awash with rain, only about 800 fairgoers went through the gates Monday. Officials closed the fair on Tuesday of that year because of the weather and attendance. Despite some rain in 2012, attendance was better with about 17,000 people Saturday through Monday.

Melissa Cogswell, of Marietta, is in her first year as chairwoman of the Marietta Tiger Athletic Boosters lemon shake stand next to the grandstand.

“We were even rained out one evening of the fair,” Cogswell recalled. “We closed down.”

Cogswell said the Boosters sold 3,318 lemon shakes in 2012 at the fair. Each one is $2.

“Squeezing the lemon well is a trick,” she said. “We take pride in the quality of our shakes.”

A half lemon is used for each one along with water and a quarter-cup of sugar, she said. Proceeds from the sale are divided among the 14 sports at the middle and high schools for equipment and uniforms, Cogswell said.

The National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va. is calling for a 60 percent chance of rain Saturday and Saturday night with highs in the mid- to low 80s Saturday through Monday. Thunderstorms are likely Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday might be the best day of the fair, according to the outlook, with partly sunny skies and a high of 75.

The Marietta Civitan Club is hoping for a great fair because the members will serve up Bob Evans sausage as they have been doing for at least the past 50 years, said David Grimes, 61, of Marietta, the outgoing president of the organization.

Grimes said he hopes the public will come out and support the fair board and the Civitans in their community projects, including scholarships, Youth Day, when children lean about nature, and research into birth defects.

“We’ll have sausage all weekend,” beginning at 7 a.m. each day, said Joe Brandjes, 71, of Marietta, the group’s president-elect.

Born in late February on their farm, the two market lambs of Clayton Mason, 17, of Lowell, arrived in their temporary home Friday afternoon. He is a member of the Washington County Carteens 4-H Club.

“Coming from our home farm, we do it just as a hobby,” Mason said. “As far as winning grand champion, that’s a lofty goal. I guess anything is possible.”

Many of the rabbit and poultry participants were getting their first look at the accommodations the fair board provided after an April 29 fire destroyed the Rabbit and Poultry Barn.

Staci Ritchie, 36, of Marietta, a member of the Small Animal Committee, weighed the rabbits, chickens and turkeys as they came in for their four-day stay in two tents provided.

“It’s better than nothing,” Ritchie said. “Just go with the flow. It’s going to work out fine because we have a good group of people.”