Archive for Wednesday, August 13, 2003

A fair to remember

Exhibiting half of fun at Vinland

August 13, 2003

For the 96th straight time, the Vinland Fair was a crowd pleaser. Just ask Katharine Kelley, who has only missed a few of them.

Kelley, who is 94, has been going to the Vinland Fair since she was a baby. That's not quite all 96 fairs.

"Not quite, but pretty close," Kelley said Monday from her usual spot at the Baldwin Public Library, where she still works every day preserving the city and area's history. "The first fair I went to was 1909. I was a baby and mother entered me in the baby contest and I won first prize."

Kelley kept that fair winning streak alive 94 years later with four blue ribbons, six red and two whites. It's her favorite part of the fair.

"I just like to enter," she said. "I enter in the cooking and canning and also the plants. I came home with 12 prizes this year."

Kelley won blue ribbons with her gooseberry pie, rolls, spider lilly and her "big plant that's white and green."

"I took second on my loaf of bread, but it was made out of the same dough as my rolls," Kelley said. "Evidently I paid more attention to making my rolls."

Despite her near century of winning fair prizes, that's not all she enjoys about the annual event. She likes just about everything.

"As always, I had a great time. I thoroughly enjoyed it," she said about this year's version. "I didn't make it out for any of the night programs. I usually do, but I didn't this year. I always enjoy it. In fact, I hardly ever miss one.

"I've been to most of them, except I neglected them during my college years," said Kelley. "But, I've been pretty faithful since."

Like so many others, Kelley doesn't just go to the Vinland Fair, she also works it. Volunteers do all of the work leading up to it, during the fair and the cleanup afterwards. Kelley did her part by watching the exhibit building Saturday afternoon.

"I sat on the bench on duty from 1 to 4 p.m. to make sure no one ran off with anything," she said. "That's the coolest place at the fair. I usually enjoy the kids' races that are on Friday, but it was just too hot for me. I didn't go."

There were plenty of others who went Friday. It was easily the most well attended part of the fair with the antique tractor pull and the band Crow Canyon playing in the evening after the kids' races.

"Friday night was our biggest night," said Mike Craig, who is president of the fair along with his wife, Julie. "We couldn't hardly get around."

There was even some unplanned excitement Friday night when a truck caught on fire in the parking lot. The Palmyra Township firefighters were on hand at the fair and didn't have far to go to extinguish the blaze.

"I didn't hear too much about that," Craig said of the fire. "I guess a fuel line came loose or something."

That was only a minor blip in the fair. Everything else went smoothly.

"It went real well," he said. "The weather half way cooperated. We were pleased. We don't have the totals in on it yet, but there were lots of people there. We sure were glad that everyone came out. We hope everyone enjoyed themselves."

The fair is a labor of love for all the volunteers that make it happen every year. But, it's always good when it's over, too.

"It's a relief to be done with it," said Craig. "Those three days there are a lot of people who are down there all the time. It takes a toll on you."

He's also pretty confident there will be a 97th Vinland Fair, thanks to all of those that make it happen.

"Oh, I'm sure we will do it again," said Craig. "We couldn't do it without the volunteers. You just ask them and they chip in and do anything."

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