Memories of the fair

By Kalea Hall

and Jordyn Grzelewski


Some remember their first taste of fair fries.

For others, their best memory is getting a ribbon for growing a massive pumpkin or having their horse steal the show.

Every fairgoer has a memory, which is why we asked you to share.

Candace Campana of Struthers bought her rescue horse, Sunny Boy, seven years ago. As soon as she bought him, she was filled with excitement at the thought of showing him at the Canfield Fair.

After working with Sunny Boy for a year to gain his trust, Campana had a stall for her horse at the fair’s Pony Palace, and they were ready to compete.

“I wasn’t expecting to win or place. My main goal was to have fun, and to teach Sunny Boy that not every person would hurt him, and not every place was bad, especially the fair,” Campana said.

Sunny Boy took third place out of 14 horses in his first competition. The next year, Sunny Boy won Grand Champion Halter. Sunny Boy continued to shine over the past six years in a variety of competitions: Western, English, Halter, Costume, Egg and Spoon and Barrels. He will be back again for his seventh year at the fair.

“He is a true magnet that people flock to, when seven years ago no one could get near him,” Campana said.

Beverly Rine of Canton comes to the fair every year.

She would always attend with her parents, Kathryn Johnson of Struthers and the late Howard Johnson.

As many do, her father would love to get an overflowing cup of fair fries every year.

“Toward the end of the day, we would always get some fried cheese with sauce up by The Rock and do a little people watching,” Rine said.

Mackenzie Prus, of Canfield, shared a fair memory of her parents.

On Sept. 28, 1978, her 15-year-old future mom, Toni, was working a booth at the fair for her church. Her 18-year-old future dad, Robert Zimmerman, was also working at the fair for his church.

After admiring each other for a few days, Robert finally asked to call Toni.

Robert would call Toni daily. When Toni turned 16, her family finally let her go on a first date with Robert.

On Sept. 12, 1981, they became Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman.

Since then, the Canfield residents have never missed a Canfield Fair together.

“We love this story. The Canfield Fair is always a special time for us to remember their story and legacy,” Prus said. “All because two people fell in love.”

Colleen Brown of Gahanna, Ohio, remembers her father, the late William E. Brown Sr. of Youngstown, working as a policeman all week at the fair in the late 1960s. Her father worked Gate 7 near Pioneer Village, which is now Western Reserve Village. The family would park a camper at the fair and stay all week.

“I would sit and watch the dancers dance for hours at a time,” Brown said. “Even though I’m in my 60s now, my sister and I drive from Columbus for the day to attend the fair.”

On Twitter, Jay Baulo remembers getting separated from his parents at age 4.

“Somehow I ended up milking a cow and scoring a free Molnar’s cinnamon roll,” he writes.

Billy Auman of Struthers recalls attending one of the colder fairs when he was 5. He was all bundled up and feeding a horse some hay. When he bent down to get some more hay to feed the horse, the horse tried eating his winter hat.

“I was scared,” he said. “That was my favorite hat of all time.”

Luckily, Auman’s dad saved the hat.

Throughout our coverage of the 170th Canfield Fair, we will search for more of your stories. You can find us at The Vindicator tent right by the grandstand at the fairgrounds or send your stories to or on Twitter @VindyAtTheFair.

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