155TH CANFIELD FAIR Those suited for job shouldn't get cocky

The custom-made suit cost $1,200. It was donated to the fair.
CANFIELD -- Chris Pruitt has some advice for Canfield Fair volunteers interested in spending time in the 8-foot-tall inflatable fair rooster suit.
"Be prepared to be extremely warm," he said.
Pruitt, a high-school English teacher from Canfield, was the first fair volunteer to serve as the fair rooster. He donned the suit several times during each day of the fair in 1996 and 1997.
"I was extremely surprised by how hot it was," Pruitt said. "If it was 90 degrees outside, it was 120 degrees in the suit."
Still enjoyable: However, he also stressed that fair volunteers who serve as the rooster will enjoy the experience.
"You'll have a great time," Pruitt said.
Lee Stacey, the fair board's director of publicity, said the board decided to buy the suit in 1996 to help mark the 150th anniversary of the fair. That year, the board also asked all fairgoers to do the "chicken dance" at 3 p.m. on the Sunday of the fair. Pruitt, wearing the suit, led fairgoers in the dance.
World record: The event broke the world record for the number of people doing the chicken dance at the same time.
"Whatever the rooster did, everybody followed," Pruitt said.
The custom-made suit cost $1,200, according to Penny Less, a fair volunteer from Green Township who worked with Debbie Roman and Cheryl Makoski to organize the suit's purchase. Roman and Makoski also were fair volunteers.
The suit was bought by Hively Construction Co. Inc., of Green Township, and donated to the fair.
Stacey added that former fair board executive director Grace Williams developed the idea of using a rooster as the mascot about 45 years ago. Williams thought a rooster mascot would go well with the fair's slogan, "Something to Crow About," which she also had created, Stacey said.
About six volunteers wear the suit each year, Stacey said. The suit can be worn for only about an hour by each volunteer, because of the heat.
The little ones: Less, who wears the suit a few times each year, said that she enjoys meeting younger fairgoers when she's dressed as the rooster.
"I just love to see the look on little kids' faces. They're just in awe," she said. "You always get the occasional one who's scared to death.
George Less, Penny's husband and a member of the fair board, also wears the rooster suit a few times during each fair. He said children are typically hesitant to approach the mascot.
"The little kids stand at a distance and then come up," George said. "Usually everybody's really nice."

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