By Elise Franco
Change remains a constant at the Canfield Fair.
Craig Myers, fair board member, says the fair’s progression is easily seen when listening to oral histories or thumbing through publications.
“Back in the 1920s, the fair wasn’t a place for women. It was full of men drinking and gambling,” he said. “Respectable women didn’t go to the fair.”
As social mores changed, Myers said, women did attend the fair, but it was in full “proper dress.”
“Women would wear long dresses and gloves,” he said.
More time passed, and soon it was common to see families attending the fair together and everyone, not just farmers, wearing blue jeans.
Now, with the fair about to open its 166th year Wednesday, it’s as big as ever — and still changing.
Fair board President Chuck Booth said it’s important to maintain the integrity of the fair’s ever-popular grounds and buildings as changes happen.
“We try to do preventive maintenance every year,” he said. “We try to keep the fair in good shape because there are so many buildings that the work is just constant.”
Booth said so far this year the board has spent $174,700 on capital improvements that include painting the church and schoolhouse at Western Reserve Village, roofing the Fine Arts Building and redoing the ceiling in the Pumpkin Building.
“Not only does this prevent things from getting bad, it looks nice and keeps the grounds fresh and bright,” he said.
Members of the Junior Fair 4-H clubs also helped paint the rest rooms and showers at the Pop Shop, and work was done to make that area more handicap-accessible, Booth said.
He said the fair received a $10,000 grant from the Hine Foundation in Youngstown to complete that work.
The last major project was the construction of three temporary horse stalls. Booth said one stall will hold 20 additional race horses and two will hold 40 additional quarter horses.
“I know last year by race day we had so many entries that they had to tie horses to trailers,” he said. “And already these new stalls are filling up fast.”