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Manager goes to extremes in preparation for events



Published: Sat, August 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A must-see new fair attraction is the Extreme Canine Show.

By JEANNE STARMACK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- It was quiet at the Canfield Fairgrounds last week, but not too quiet.

From among the quaint white buildings that line the streets inside the fenced 175 acres on the fairgrounds south of the city, a buzzing undercurrent of activity mingled with the morning air. The sky was a deep blue and the late August weather was mercifully cool -- great weather for a fair.

Inside Building 20, Bev Fisher sat in her small office, tabbing through envelopes and papers and talking a mile a minute on the phone and to people who stepped in from time to time to tell her this needs to be done, that needs to be done.

Fisher was in fast gear, with no signs of slowing down, getting ready for this week when it begins -- the 159th Canfield Fair, which starts Wednesday and ends Labor Day, Sept. 5.

As fair manager, she has more than a lot to do.

"It's a revolving door," she said. "But it's fair time, and it's fun."

On her mind this mid-week morning is Bertha, the fairground's large loader.

"I name things," she said. "I give 'em girls names." And Bertha, who's nursing a bad starter, is much needed as the fair approaches. The loader has the forks and buckets it takes for the big moving jobs. Several of the phone calls and knocks on Fisher's door are about the ailing piece of equipment.

But she deals with the questions, then frowns and shakes off her concern at her usual fast clip to focus on the task she has in front of her: pointing out some of what's new at this year's fair and remembering some favorite features that are returning.

She's not very biased. "I like it all," she said.

But for the 400,000 people the fair expects this year, she agreed to pick out some highlights.

Dog show

She's looking forward to seeing the fur fly at the Extreme Canine Show, new this year and across from the commercial tent on Goshen Drive.

Ten dogs, all from animal shelters and rescue groups across the country, will pursue flying discs with leaps, bounds and spins, but beyond their showmanship is a message: Pet adoption is important.

Fisher said Extreme Canines also will focus on dog care at their site, and that ties in with the fair as an educational experience for families.

"They show what you can train your dog to do and how to treat them in hot weather," she said. "They'll be here every day to talk to people and let them see the dogs."

There are no times set for the Extreme Canines Show, but Fisher said the fair aims to talk the organization into doing a show every day.

Family circus, singers

For more free daily fun, Fisher said to check out the Zoppe Family Circus. Returning for its second year with some changes, it's an old-fashioned family circus, she said.

"They do family-oriented tricks," she said. "They have some animals -- not lions, tigers or bears, but horses and pony acts."

And as you're shopping at the fair's 950 vendor stands or checking out the 42 major rides and 25 kiddie rides, take some time to listen to the Robinson Family Singers. They perform at Gate 8 Thursday, Friday and Monday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday at 2, 4:30 and 7 p.m.

Fisher described the group as singers of gospel and old-fashioned country-folk songs, while "papa plays guitar."

"They're great," she said. "They pack 'em in. People line up an hour before the show to get a seat -- it is just that good."

Of course, the animals

Another highlight for Fisher, who was raised on a farm in Greenford and was involved in 4-H, is the animals.

"I like animal shows and judging, and seeing the faces of the kids in the Junior Fair when being judged. Some got their animals last October. When they get in the judge's ring, you see the satisfaction on their faces at a completed job and the determination on their faces. It's a joy to see."

If all those activities make Fisher hungry, she has to go elsewhere for lunch.

"I don't do fair food," she said.

The food

But that tasty, fattening food will be there in abundance. If you're craving decadence, try a deep-fried Snickers bar.

"How do you deep-fry candy bars without melting the chocolate?" Fisher wondered. "But they do it, it works, and people rave about it."

Fisher said 150 police officers are hired and ready to help, and traffic should run smoothly this year.

There's even a shuttle that will run from the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center on Palmyra Road on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from noon to midnight.

Gates open at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

starmack@vindy.com




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