By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- Myron Samuels clearly was in his element.
He smiled Monday as he stood among 20 of his roosters, with family and friends doing their darnedest to get them to crow.
This was the rooster-crowing contest at the Canfield Fair, the best time of the year for Samuels.
"This is fun. This is the last hurrah of the fair," said the 56-year-old Mineral Ridge resident.
Samuels' father was one of the founders of the contest decades ago, and Samuels has been involved with the contest ever since.
These days, he has his three children, their spouses and other extended family members join in. Some relatives come from North Carolina and Maryland to join in the contest, which involves getting a rooster to crow as many times as possible in 30 minutes.
"This is in my blood," Samuels said. "I'm 56 years old and this is my 56th fair."
He brings hundreds of chickens and water fowl to exhibit at the fair. When it comes time for the crowing contest, people he knows can pick out a bird and try their luck.
Mostly, it is luck, he said.
Some people will blow on their birds or tap the cages. Of course, encouraging the rooster and giving a spirited "err-err-err-err-ooo" are much-used tactics.
Factors in contest
It's the weather that determines how much a rooster feels like crowing, Samuels said. The number of crows will be down on an overcast day, while a bright, sunny morning will bring a lot of crows.
Keith Fizet, 33, an Austintown native who now lives in Parkersburg, W.Va., doesn't believe in luck.
"You got to talk to the chicken. That's for sure," he said in between some encouraging words and his best rooster-crowing imitation.
This year, Fizet was right. His bird, Kody, was the winner with 110 crows. Fizet won $25 and a trophy.
He said everyone else in his family has won over the years, but he told his mother Sunday night that he thought this would be his year.
Like the Samuelses, the Fizets have a long-standing history of competing. This year, they had five adults and seven children in the contest.
Fizet said he and the other adults love it because they can't show horses as they did when they were children. The rooster-crowing competition provides a way for them to have some fun, he said. The family shows ponies at the fair.
Birds get around
As owners of Lakeview Pony Farm, Samuels and his wife, Sharon, also show ponies at the fair. Samuels' main interest, however, is chickens.
He also takes his birds to the Summit, Cuyahoga and Lake county fairs. He keeps hundreds of chickens just because he loves to exhibit them.
"I don't do anything with the eggs," he said. "Sometimes I take some to work and give them away."
Samuels, a laborer at Delphi Packard Electric, is retiring from the company in January after working there 33 years. With more time on his hands, he thinks he may be tempted to expand his chicken holdings so he can bring even more to the fair next year.