Cattle group feeds fair every year
The cattlemen are from Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LISBON -- Their days at the Columbiana County Fair begin at 5 a.m. and end around 2 the following morning.
By Sunday, they will have cooked and served 4,000 burgers, 1,000 ribeye steaks, 1,200 breakfast sandwiches and about 500 hot dogs, all to promote beef food products and dairy and beef cattle as an agricultural industry.
Members and friends of the Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull Cattleman's Association are grilling the all-beef delights for fair participants and visitors for the sixth consecutive year.
Member Steve Skrinjar of Rogers said the trailer next to the Buckeye Dairy Boosters stand on the east side of the fairgrounds has become the group's main fundraiser.
He said Dean and Naomi Prysi of Dundee own the trailer and take only a small percentage of the earnings for their trouble. Not only do they deliver the trailer, they stay all week and help do the cooking, too.
"It's all volunteers," Skrinjar said. "We get a lot of the same members working each year, and sometimes people who don't own cattle want to help us. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.
"Five people at a time work four-hour shifts," he said. "When it's hot like it's been, four hours over a hot grill seems like a lot longer, but people come back for more."
Skrinjar said the group uses the proceeds from the fair to support youth beef and dairy programs, purchase educational materials, and supplies for cattlemen.
"We just bought some branding irons for members to use," he said. "We freeze them."
Skrinjar and other cattlemen explained that branding is necessary for cattlemen, but east of the Mississippi it's done with a frozen branding iron rather than a hot one like Western cowboys and ranchers use.
The cattle still have to be rounded up for branding, but the branding irons are frozen in liquid nitrogen, he said. The freezing brand discolors the hair on the cattle rather than burning into their skin.
Skrinjar said not only is the fair fundraiser growing each year, so is the association. Formed in 1986, the group is affiliated with the Ohio Cattleman's Association.
Members were only from Columbiana and Mahoning counties until Trumbull County cattlemen joined last year.
Ben Campbell of Diamond is president, and Mark Kohler of Minerva is vice president. Owners of dairy herds as well as beef herds can be members, although there are only a few dairy cattlemen in the group so far, Skrinjar said.
The group has developed a good relationship with the Buckeye Dairy Boosters while working side by side at the fair since 2000.
This year, the two groups share a covered picnic area for people who buy food from either stand. The dairy boosters bought the tent and store it during the winter. The cattlemen are responsible for putting up the tent and then taking it down at the end of the fair, he said.
The cattlemen and the board of directors meet monthly and try to have educational programs. They discuss topics like grazing and nutrition and health issues of cattle.
The cattlemen also have collected about $50,000 toward a new steer barn for the fairgrounds, which they said is desperately needed. The current one needs to be replaced because of its age.
They want a new steer barn where all the beef steers shown at the fair can be housed. He said when there is enough money to begin construction, the fair board will help with donated labor for the project.
Although the group is a long way from reaching the financial goal, they haven't given up on the project, Skrinjar said. At current construction costs, about $150,000 is needed.
Skrinjar said the cattlemen also try to help the fair board with smaller projects whenever possible. Last year they excavated an old concrete wall and concrete steps between the dairy booster's building and their trailer space.