Opening day is a hot one at Canfield Fair

A 991-pound pumpkin set a new fair record.




CANFIELD — Temperatures hit 91 degrees Wednesday for the Canfield Fair’s first day of blue ribbons, cotton candy and stomach-testing rides.

The high temperature was apparently too much for four people who had collapsed Tuesday, said fair board member Andrew Frost. Two others had been treated for possible dehydration before noon Wednesday, he said.

Frost cautioned fair attendees to drink plenty of water. Older people should be accompanied by a companion, he said.

“It’s going to be 90 degrees and it’s easy to get dehydrated,” he said.

Four golf carts manned by paramedics will circle the fairgrounds continually for the course of the fair, waiting for distress calls, said Frost. Fair officials opted to add an additional golf cart unit prior to opening day, he said.

“It’s probably a good thing we did,” he added.

Things don’t really heat up at the fair until later in the week, say longtime fair fans.

Stephanie Nickison, 24, of Akron, was having a lackluster afternoon at her “Soggy Froggy” carnival game, where participants launch rubber frogs at rotating lily pads. But Nickison has worked the Canfield Fair for six years and she knows better than to get lulled into a heat-induced daze.

“Wednesday and Thursday are relatively slow,” she said. “Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday you don’t have the time to breathe. It’s very busy.”

Prizes for produce

Those responsible for appraising the finest products of the Mahoning Valley’s farms and gardens didn’t waste any time getting started.

One very large (in the literal sense) record was set Wednesday with a giant pumpkin weighing 991 pounds. This grand champion outweighed its second-place counterpart by 142 pounds.

Winner Alan Gibson, 57, of Salem, said growing the garden giants is “just a hobby” for him. He also serves as treasurer of the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers club and edits its newsletter.

“This is like extreme gardening,” he said. “You have to have the right seeds, good soil and a lot of water, because we had a big drought at the beginning of the year.”

Gibson will receive $750, or about 75 cents per pound, courtesy of Parks Garden Center, he said. The all-time fair record-setting pumpkin will be on display inside the Pumpkin Barn throughout the week.

In the nearby vegetable and fruit buildings, other awe-inspiring specimens included a 19-pound cabbage, a 148.5-pound watermelon and a 1.5-pound apple.

Avoiding the crowds

No matter how sweltering, the quieter atmosphere of the fair’s first day was a draw for certain returning patrons such as Kathy Gosh, 56 of Boardman.

“There’s less people here on the first day,” said Gosh, explaining her strategy to avoid crowds and lines.

Gosh and a friend were undeterred by the heat as they headed to view items they had entered in the fair’s craft show. The fair received more than 3,500 entries in its arts and craft exhibitions this year, said fair board member Kathryn Bennett. Participants will compete in more than 800 categories ranging from baked goods to needlepoint.

“I’d rather have this than snow,” Gosh said of the heat.

XTo view a photo gallery of the fair, visit

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