By Elise Franco
HE CANFIELD FAIR IS MORE THAN JUST food, animals and entertainment to Erma Randall Hartley and Isabelle Sandquist.
Hartley, 91, of Canfield, and Sandquist, 100, of Chicago, Ill., both said that the fair signifies one of the only times each year their entire families can be together.
Hartley was joined on Saturday by her children and grandchildren as they watched her son Ron Randall compete in the harness racing competition. She said it’s one of the main reasons she returns to the fair each summer.
“It’s a big event for me to have all my family together at the fair,” she said. “My year wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t go.”
For Hartley, the annual tradition of visiting the fairgrounds began when she was 6-years-old.
“My sister and I would walk from Cornersburg up to a farm on Messerly Road to pick strawberries for 2 cents a quart to earn money for the fair,” she said.
The former Boardman School District treasurer said the fair remains much the same as she remembers it more than 80 years ago.
She said the only major differences are the cost to attend and the amount of land the fair now covers.
“We would go with a quarter and a packed lunch and spend some money on a ride or two,” she said. “To me, it hasn’t changed much. We still walk around and look through all the barns.” she said.
Jerri Morris, a long-time friend and former co-worker, said everyone is still amazed at what Hartley can do.
“She always was a person who went 90 miles per hour,” Morris said. “She’s always doing something, and hasn’t given that up yet. Her family just wants her to have fun.”
Sandquist’s niece Jane Sandin, of Boardman, said her aunt is the same way, even at 100-years-old.
“She’s unreal because she doesn’t think anything about getting on a plane and flying home for the fair,” Sandin said.
Sandquist’s record for fair attendance isn’t quite as spotless as Hartley’s but it’s still impressive. She and a several family members spent Thursday walking the fairgrounds.
The former Boardman schools’ secretary said she came every year as a child but stopped once she moved out of Ohio.
Sandquist didn’t return to the fair on a regular basis until 11 years ago when she began entering items in the Arts and Crafts Building display.
The vest and matching tote bag Sandquist entered this year in the 75-and-older sewing category won second place.
“I feel this is home, and I have always come back to my roots,” she said. “It’s very special to come back and be with my family.”