By Kalea Hall
Many people feel a connection to the Canfield Fair.
Some have gone every year for decades, and others have gone every single day, every year for decades.
And each time, they fall in love again with the food, the atmosphere.
This year there is a chance for those attending the 168th Canfield Fair to share the love they have for the fair with love locks on The BIG LOCK 13-foot wire rooster outside of the Fine Arts building at the fairgrounds.
The idea is to lock up the collective love the community has for the fair.
“We spend a lot of time thinking about what to do to involve the community because the more you involve [people] the closer they feel to it,” said Suzanne Gray, a Fine Arts building staff member. “There are people who are just so connected [to the fair.] The beauty of the big lock is the fairgrounds are used all year round, so anytime of the year people can come put on a lock. It’s not limited to these six days.”
The metal-framed rooster holding the locks was a collaboration project between the Canfield Fair Fine Arts staff, Lawless Industries Ltd. of Poland and AES of California. BIG LOCK was donated to the fair by Shawn Lawless in memory of his dad, Dave.
Last year, the Faces of the Fair montage ended, and the Fine Arts staff wanted to find something to replace it after fairgoers expressed how much they loved feeling a part of the fair with the project.
Some other ideas were kicked around, but the one that stuck was a take on the worldwide phenomenon called Love Locks. In Paris and elsewhere, couples attached locks to bridges as a sign of love.
By coincidence, there is an upside-down heart inside the rooster.
“It’s an art sculpture, so we want it to be something to change in the weather,” Gray said. “It’s ever evolving.”
Gray doesn’t know how many locks the BIG LOCK will hold, but the thought is it will be complete in five years. Lawless will come and reinforce the rooster if it starts to look unsound, she said.
The name, BIG LOCK, comes from the “Big Rock” near the grandstand, which has been a staple at the fair for years.
“We are hoping this becomes the next staple,” Gray said.
Gray’s five grandchildren were the first to put locks on the rooster. Altogether, there are about 20 on the rooster, so far, and each lock seems to have its own story.
Many have designs and names on them either in memory of someone, in celebration of the fair and for other reasons.
There will be a Fine Arts staff member outside with the BIG LOCK selling locks for $3 with postcards and listening to the lock stories. The keys will be collected for the Fine Arts staff to use on another undetermined project.
Remember, “mark the spot where you hang your lock,” Gray said.
Each lock postcard given with a purchased lock has the BIG LOCK rooster on it to mark.