For Wakeman’s Lowell and Sally Witt, though, the fair holds an extra special place in their memories and hearts.
The couple, who have been married for 58 years, took time Sunday evening to get some old-fashion ice cream in between spending time with family and helping their grandchildren and great-grandchildren set up fair projects. Each chose butter pecan flavor.
“It has been a tradition, I suppose,” said Sally Witt, referring to the family attending the fair every year. “Our other grandson, Dylan, has been out here since he was 9.”
“And before that, our daughter was out here every year, too,” her husband reminded her.
“Yeah, that’s right, our daughter showed since she was about 9, too, so we’ve been out here every year,” she said. “She’s 50 now and she’s been out here since she was 9. So we’ve been out here quite a few years. Then we go to the Lorain County Fair a couple days too because his brother pulls horses.”
The couple, who’ve known each other for 70 years, have been going to the fair together long before their children were born.
“We’ve been coming to the fair a long time because we actually met at the fair,” Lowell said. “That was at the Athens fair. ... Both our parents had horses at the fair — that’s how we got to know each other.”
“We’ve known each other since we were small. Our parents became good friends and so we’ve known each other a long time and almost grew up together,” Sally added.
“I finished my last year of school and he went in the Marin Corp. That took two years. He graduated, came up here, he got a job going at the Ford plant and then that’s when we got married. It took a few years (before we were married).”
When asked what keeps them visiting local fairs year after year, the Witts cite “family.” They said the sights and sounds sometimes remind them of the times they used to spend at the fair together when they were young, but mostly they enjoy making new memories “with all the grandkids.”
“We come back every year for the kids, the grandkids and we have great-grandkids that are showing now,” Sally said. “We’ve got a great-great-granddaughter (Peyton Westfall) that’s showing a little mini and our great-grandson (Mason Hickman) is showing a turkey. We’ve got something going on every day and we’re out here for the week.”
On the eve of opening day, the fairgrounds was a busy place Sunday. Vendors and exhibitors were setting up their booths, while 4-Hers were checking in animals and participating in activities such as horse, sheep and swine skillathons. The Horse Fair kick-off and special equine awards presentation also took place.
Deb June, a Greenwich mother, said she brings her three children because of the life lessons they learn from it.
“It doesn’t matter how big or how small the kid is, as long as they work with their animals, (life lessons) click,” she said, adding her oldest two children will be showing calves.
“I think it’s a very good experience for kids. You take a kid that has the responsibility of taking care of another life, even an animal, it really does make a big difference. It gives them a whole new understanding of things.”
Her 10-year-old son Troy Akers, who participates in 4-H with the Norwich Fun Bunch group, said he “can’t wait” to show his cow, proudly adding this will be his second year doing so.
“I’m looking forward to watching my kids show,” June said. “They put in a lot of sacrifices.”
The highlight of today’s schedule is the LoCash concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Grandstand area. Tickets still are available for the concert. All tickets cost $25 apiece. The gates open at 6:30 p.m.
LoCash’s biggest radio hits include “Ring on Every Finger,” “I Love This Life” and “I Know Somebody.” The duo was nominated for the 2017 American Country Music Awards New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year, 2017 CMT’s Duo Video of the Year for “I Know Somebody” and the 2017 CMA’s Vocal Duo of the Year.
Today’s Junior Fair events include animal weigh-ins and judging, as well as more skillathons, a sheep showmanship and the style review at 6 p.m. the Judging Pavilion.
General admission to the fair costs $8, which includes rides and grandstand access for the nightly entertainment — with the exception of tonight’s concert. Children under 36 inches tall get in free.
Tuesday is Kids Day, and everyone is admitted free of charge until 3 p.m. Rides cost extra.
Forecasters are calling for a week of pleasant temperatures and mostly sunny skies — for the most part. There is a chance of rain between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. today, as well as Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The greatest likelihood of showers will occur Thursday.
Highs will be in the low to mid 80s and lows mostly will be in the mid to upper 60s.