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How is the Canfield Fair the biggest in the state?

Published: Sun, September 2, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

Labor Day weekend closes the summer with a bang. And for us in the Valley, we have the Canfield Fair to help along with the bang.

If you did not know this, the Canfield Fair is the largest in Ohio.

Just ask anybody.

They might not know who our next sheriff will be (Jerry Greene).

They might not know the name of that place that took over for that other place downtown (Dooney’s).

They might not know if it’s Johnson or Wilson who is the current congressman (Johnson).

But they do know the Canfield Fair is the largest in Ohio.

In our Vindy archives, we’ve been saying it as long as I could look back.

On the Canfield Fair’s website, they dance a bit on that issue.

On the facts page, it says:

The Canfield Fair is the largest county fair in the state of Ohio.

But on the “Meet the directors” page, it says:

Meet the folks who work behind the scenes to make ours Ohio’s greatest county fair.

So which is it? Largest or Greatest?

I’ve always had this hunch that the fair’s “Largest” title was like McDonald’s “billions served” claim.

Did McDonald’s really count 34 billion served? Maybe. But it’s such a large, enormous number, keep saying it and keep adding to it, and people will never doubt it.

I doubt things — for a profession, for a hobby, and for a time-killer when my “Words with Friends” foes are slow to play a word.

On Friday, it was my turn to staff the Vindy fair tent, which is part duty, part medieval-like punishment depending on the weather, the line for free YSU tickets and whether or not you can sit down for a minute.

Standing makes booth workers more personal, a study told us. So we stand for four hours to be more personal. (Mike Case gets to sit.)

I doubted, too, the study. Thus I created a scheme: I would write my column from the fair. (I can’t type standing up.) So I pursued the Biggest legend.

I asked guests: “The Canfield Fair is the biggest in Ohio, right?”

I got: “You bet” ... “Absolutely” ... “Of course.”

I then would ask: “But by what measure is it the biggest?”

I got some befuddled looks and some good answers.

I even got some people to go on a hunt for me and come back with answers.

Gene Oesch said it’s the biggest due to the number of acres used and the number of people exhibiting. Gene must be right because atop his head was a pristine 1988 baseball cap from the Oesch family reunion. Any guy who can keep a cap that pristine after 25 years must know facts.

But Mr. Cavanaugh said it’s the biggest because of the amount of freebie contests you can enter at the booths. (Our freebie was a $100 gift card and an iPad.)

He’s been coming to the fair for 75 years.

The food makes it the biggest, said many people. They then would recite their favorite place for food: anything Molnar’s, Richardson’s french fries, snow cones, etc.

One person was excited for something called Ricky Quickie’s Corn Dogs over by the floral barn. I mean excited, as in dump-your-fair-booth-job-and-go-now excitement. I’m sorry, but there’s just something not right about that title. It should have an NC 17 rating after it.

One guy answered: “It’s just big, big,” and he kept coming back to tell me different big theories. I reached for my “Words with Friends.”

Cheryl Williams and Jackie Yahn appreciated my concern. They went out hunting for an answer. They came back an hour or so later, telling me it’s biggest because it’s the largest number of people in six days at a county fair.

Word must have gotten to board member George Berlin, because he came over in his golf cart and verified that claim. He said the state fair has more people, but it’s over 14 days.

Not that I doubt non-profits or governments or elected officials or commissions or studies, but I asked George, “Says who?”

And he said it’s an official measure by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. I went to ODA’s website. Though there’s no banner that says “Canfield Fair is the biggest in Ohio,” they do have a bunch of fair info that would make them the office that would possibly own such claims. (They also monitor grapes, gypsy moths and carnival rides.)

So that’s how we lay claim to the biggest. Or we could be like Rodney Bowyer of Boardman:

“I don’t know if it’s the biggest, but it’s the best ...”

Next year, I’ll pursue proof of why it’s the best.

I might be able to sit down again.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.

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