CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – If you’re planning to go to the 177th annual Canfield Fair this weekend, there is plenty to do! From food to exhibits to special performances and all the other trappings you expect to see at a county fair.
There was lots of excitement in the grandstands Sunday evening, as over 5,000 people filled the stands to listen to their favorite country-rock singer Koe Wetzel.
Wetzel is from Texas and is known for fusing musical genres. He describes his unique style as “hillbilly punk-rock.”
People from all over drove hours to see him perform.
“I feel like it’s different from all the other country people,” said concert attendee Gianna Taliani. “I feel like it’s more rock, and country at the same time.”
Local artist Chris Higbee was the opening act.
Kids in 4-H in Mahoning County put their cooking skills to the test Sunday afternoon in the second year for the 4-H cooking contest.
One challenge had participants use a list of ingredients and judged, and Sunday was the final round.
Beth Smith, 4-H organizer, said the contest is a great way to showcase everything the program has to offer in addition to animals.
“So many other skills, not just cooking. We have sewing, we have STEM projects. We have kids who do robotics projects, veterinary projects,” Smith said. “There’s just so many other projects besides just our livestock.”
This year’s cooking contest had 12 kids.
The truck and tractor pull held its last competition of the fair Saturday night for the unlimited, 8,000 pound super stock class.
Craig Peterson, a competitor, has attended the fair for the truck and tractor pull in the past, making the trip from Wisconsin.
“To come out and compete with the guys. We run with most of the same guys almost every week,” Peterson said.
About a thousand people sat in the grandstands for the competition.
There are hundreds of exhibits that you can check out, and many of them are interactive, like the Monarch butterfly display. You can actually go and hold a butterfly if you want to.
“Sometimes, they tickle you a lot,” said 6-year-old Khalil Shabazz.
“They are beautiful. They are small and they have great patterns on their wings,” said 7-year-old Kylyn Shabazz.
Wish Upon A Butterfly Farm brings in Monarchs and Painted Lady butterflies for their exhibit.
“The kids will come in like, I’m not touching one, I’m not touching one, I’m not doing it. Then all of a sudden they are like [gasps] look what I got! It’s like the most exciting thing they’ve ever seen,” said Andrea Hopper with Wish Upon A Butterfly.
If butterflies aren’t your thing, maybe novelty souvenir T-shirts are.
“From corn dogs to Demolition Derby to everything in between. We try to hit all the good stuff,” said Matt McClure, owner of Youngstown Clothing Company.
Speaking of the Demolition Derby, this event brings back fans year after year. Keith Boerio has gone to watch the cars crash and crumple for the last 20 years.
“I love seeing the cars smash up. It’s just exciting. It gets your blood going,” Boerio said.
“Every year, it’s different. Nothing is the same. Basically, there’s always something that surprises you every time,” said Demolition Derby fan Matt Comer.
Friday also kicked off all the big weekend events:
- Of course, more junior fair judging starts at 8 a.m. Animals include horses and calves.
- The “A” is for Apple Arts and Crafts Special starts at 1:15 p.m. at the Fruit Building.
- Bike Nite is also this afternoon at 3 p.m. at the concourse.
- Dog agility demonstrations begin at 5 this evening at the Junior Fair Saddle Horse Ring.
- The World’s Largest Demolition Derby starts at 8 p.m. in the grandstand.
Going into the weekend, Saturday brought a whole new schedule:
- The Draft Pony Iron Derby will go from 8 to 11 a.m. at the grandstand. Harness racing will follow.
- Wiener dog derby racing will happen around 11 a.m. at the grandstand.
- Saturday’s main attraction is the Canfield Fair Championship Truck and Tractor Pull at 7 p.m.
Sunday lead into Labor Day with newer events:
- Then on Sunday, the Rooster Run 5k starts at 8 a.m.
- There will be an amateur fiddler’s contest at 12:30 p.m. at the East Horse Area.
- The Junior Fair Cooking Challenge starts at 1:30 p.m. at the Junior Fair Event Center Stage.
- And finally, Koe Wetzel will wrap up the day with a concert at the grandstand that starts at 7:30 p.m.
The fair will continue through Monday, when headline act Boyz II Men will have their concert.
Chris Higbee is from southwestern Pennsylvania and has lived in the Valley for the past five years. He’s played around the Valley often, and in his career has played with many acts,
including Charlie Daniels, Neal McCoy and Florida Georgia line. On Sunday — he and his son Alex opened for country act Koe Wetzel at the fair and say they were excited to open for the artist.
“We’re excited its kind of our genre, country rock and we’re excited to mesh on stage — it’ll be fun,” Chris Higbee said.
“I’ve been to the Canfield Fair, so it’s pretty exciting that we get to play there,” Alex Higbee said. “And I’ve been playing the fiddle since I was six. I’ve been on stage since ten days old.”
Roosevelt Griffin, also known as Blaq Rose, is a Youngstown native. He’s opening for Boyz II Men at the fair on Labor Day. Griffin is a music producer, songwriter, singer and musician who has performed in R&B and gospel groups and has even worked under one of Dr. Dre’s labels.
Griffin says he’s always admired groups like Jodeci and Boyz II Men and he’s excited to cross working with both groups off his bucket list.
“To be able to work with one [Jodeci] and produced for them, and then be able to open up for the other and also be able to sing with either one of those guys is a great, great, great honor,” Griffin said.
As the fair continues Friday, the food has been a highly-discussed topic.
If you’ve gone to the fair, you’ve probably seen Antone’s food truck across from the grandstand, and now the family history is spanning into a new generation.
Chad Scianna Jr. is the 4th generation of the family that’s brought Antone’s to the Canfield Fair.
It’s been there since 1975.
This is Scianna’s second year of his food stand– King of Chicago Beef and Pork Company. This year, he’s already had to buy more food after nearly running out over the first three days of the fair. King of Chicago Beef and Pork is right next to Antone’s truck.
“I love to carry on the tradition, but I like to bring in new things and excite people with different things that I can create,” he said. “And this is just the way that I’m bringing my vision to the brand.”
Meanwhile, kids with junior fair were getting their cows ready to show as early as 5 a.m.
The kids say it takes a lot of prep.
First, the cows get washed and fed, then they take a few practice laps around the ring before their show and judging.
Katie Byers has shown several cows at the fair.
“You get to really see the time and effort you put in,” Byers said. “I mean, we get them at like 400 pounds and he’s 1,400 pounds. So I literally put 1,000 pounds on this animal and I get to watch them grow and see how my work changes him.”
The cows will be auctioned off Saturday at 11 a.m. in the event center.
Past 4-H members are helping out current members sell T-shirts at the Little Red Barn across from the Big Rock. Shirts of various designs are available, all the way up to 4X. Proceeds from the sales will go toward the 4-H program and the Junior Fair.
This year, the alumni donated $5,500 to send them to Camp Whitewood and sponsored plaques for the Junior Fair Royalty. First News spoke with one alumna, Delorean Leventry, who says 4-H helped make her what she is today, and that fair has a bigger meaning to those in the program.
“When you go down here, it’s a family. Everybody’s together. Everybody helps everybody out, and we want to keep that growing,” Leventry said. “We want to keep the fair alive, and the 4-H and the Junior Fair really do keep the fair alive and keep the fair growing and keep it what it is.”
Also happening at the fair: the Youngstown Police Department is talking with fairgoers about career opportunities with the department.
To become an officer you have to be at least 21 years old, pass a background check and physical, as well as the written test, which is happening on Sept. 28.
Detective Sergeant Sharon Cole with YPD says they’re looking for people who are willing to serve the Youngstown community.
“The rewarding part for me is helping people,” Cole said. “Helping people in the community, and you meet a lot of people and make a lot of good friends.”
Cole says being a police officer gives her the ability to support her family, as well as give back to the community.
Brian Oehlbeck and Tino DiCenso contributed to this report.