ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The 163rd edition of the Belmont County Fair officially kicked off Wednesday afternoon as fair board members held a grand opening celebration at noon just inside the main gate.
Four American Legion posts representing Shadyside, Flushing, St. Clairsville and Maynard assisted with the flag raising and provided the colors.
Following a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, a moment of silence was observed for Shirley Shumaker, the Belmont County Agricultural Society's longtime treasurer and board member who passed away in April.
JESSICA MOORE positions her spotted calf during the heavyweight steer feeder calf judging during the Jr. Fair Beef Show early Wednesday morning at the Belmont County Fair. Moore’s calf was named grand champion feeder calf. Jared Kernen took Reserve Grand Champion honors.
After a short prayer, board members, guests and local dignitaries headed down to the Robinson Stage to continue the opening festivities.
Jayne Keyser with the Belmont County Extension Office officially introduced the fair's royal court.
Kurtis Ogilbee, a graduate of Union Local High School, will serve as king; Abby Collins, a junior at Union Local High School, was selected as queen; Jordan Mehlman, an eighth grade student at Bellaire Middle School, will serve as prince; and Jessica Roberts, a fifth-grader at Martins Ferry Middle School, was selected as princess.
"These four are a great representative of our junior fair organization," Keyser remarked.
Keyser noted that all four members of the court had animals they were showing during the junior fair. Ogilbee and Collins are also both officers with Jr. Fair Board.
All three Belmont County Commissioners, Ginny Favede, Matt Coffland and Chuck Probst, were introduced, along with other county and state officials including Ohio State Sen. Jack Cera. The commissioners assisted BCAS President Jerry Campbell during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Campbell then spoke, welcoming everyone and thanking all for their help in keeping the fair going year after year.
"We thank you all for your generosity and time in helping to make us grow," Campbell said.
Dave Phillips, the chief executive officer at Barnesville Community Hospital, was the keynote speaker.
Phillips feels the fair and the people who make it happen are the epitome of the dedication and pride of the people of Belmont County.
"What makes this great is the people," Phillips said. "You can see how much dedication they have when you just walk around the fairgrounds."
Later in the afternoon, the 14th annual Baked Goods Auction took place, marking the first major, non-animal related event to take place.
The Joseph Sisters, a country soul group based in Wheeling, performed on the Robinson Stage, as did the R.F.B. Band, which closed out the night's festivities.
The first of two High Impact Motorsports Demolition Derbys was held in between the two shows. The second is scheduled to close out the fair on Sunday.
There was a little grumbling over an apparent low turnout for the first derby, which featured only two heats.
The open class beef show and Fair Field Days kicked off action Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
Tonight's main event is a karaoke contest slated for 7 p.m. on the Robinson Stage.
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