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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.


1ohldepharte(25 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

It would be a lot nicer fair if it just didn't smell so bad from all those vendors selling that vile mix of sausage, onions and peppers swimming in rancid grease.

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2whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I had a great time at the fair, was given 2 admission tickets free.
I went early, ate before I went, didnt spend a dime there but had fun looking at all the art and crafts, and petting the animals.

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3NoBS(2758 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I'd always heard that the Canfield Fair was the second-largest county fair in the state, since, technically, the Ohio State Fair is a county fair as well. I do know that attendance numbers are kept and compiled. The Vindy prints them every year. So determining who gets the most visitors, ie who's the "biggest" in terms of attendance, should be easy.

And I have to say, I'm chuckling over the "armchair experts" whose answer to everything they don't personally like is "Downsize!"

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4MLC75(660 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

The Canfield Fair is fantastic ! If you don't like it,stay home and shut up,typical negative losers.

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5CountryGirl51(232 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Downsize !!!?? Isnt that what a fair is all about....animals, crafts, food etc...Id say by your comment that you just dont like fairs ! Stay home then Bud !

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6NoBS(2758 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Hella, your logic is flawed. In fact, there's no logic in your argument. You don't like fair food. We get it. However, if there arer 20 French Fry trailers, and they're all making money, then there is a need for 20 French Fry trailers. If you think you have to wait (poor baby!) in line for food at the Fair now, in your plan with only one of each food vending trailer, how long do you suppose the lines would be?

Let's see - you want to re-make the Fair in a way that's more pleasing to you. You apparently consider yourself normal, since you're speaking for all of us. So, if the Fair is improved, will that make it more attractive, or less? If it's more attractive, won't there be even more people attending? Or are you proposing that guards limit the number of people allowed on the grounds? That would result in people waiting in line for someone to leave, so they could enter.

This doesn't even get into what the Fair Board does with that $500 per food vendor trailer. Where do you suppose they get the money to keep the grounds and buildings in decent repair? Or pay the cops, fire, and EMS people, parking workers, and so on, to be there all day every day of the Fair? How do you suppose they attract top-name entertainment to the Fair?

We have an entertainment venue that is profitable, is safe for everyone, is fun for everyone, and shows the Mahoning Valley in a positive light.

You obviously don't like it - feel free to stay away from it.

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7taxpayer1001(274 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

My main beef with this article is the fact that again, Vindy feels the need to downgrade and insult something that is good for the valley. The reason for this just escapes me! I honestly believe that a paper (the paper) in our valley would promote the positive things. hmm guess I'm missing the boat!

HellaBB....Are we all supposed to conform to your likes/dislikes in order to have you attend?? I don't even go anymore because my children are grown. But when I did, every year, it was enjoyable to show them the animals, games, rides etc. and see them enjoy it all.

If you want no traffic, no crowds, no greasy food, please feel free to go sit at Denny's or stay home. You obviously miss the point of a fair!

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8southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

The usual negative banter in this post...if you don't like "greasy" food, no one is forcing you to purchase any...

As for the number of food trucks, this is a capitalistic country where everyone has a right to make money - get over it...

Better for you to stay at home or maybe go to Bob Evans with the older folks.

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9walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Hella BB,
Post #9:
Why does the Canfield Fair need 20 trailers for each kind of greasy food? We don't need 20 trailers selling a cup of greasy french fries, and we dont need 20 trailers selling cotton candy.

Why do you need the Canfield Fair to meet old friends? You actually enjoy paying ticket money, waiting in long lines in traffic and at the vendor stands just to have a chance to meet friends?

Check your lack of logic. If there are long lines at the vendor stands and there are 20 stands selling these items, then more vendors must be needed! Once again, you prove what an absolute dimwit you are. Traffic around the fair is not terribly heavy except at peak times and law enforcement does a great job of moving it along. In addition, the fairgrounds have been significantly improved over the last decade and they are used for many other events during the year than just the county fair. So, I say and I'm sure most sane people would agree, take your negativity and stick it!

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