Fair regulars get back to #039;normal#039;

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 14, 2003

ROME TOWNSHIP - While consuming an entire case of sweet tea during the week of the Lawrence County Fair, two people weighed heavily on the mind of Proctorville Police Sgt. Jeff Rood - his wife Mandy and six-month-old son Caleb.

Rood, like many others who worked at the fair, worked 16-17 hours a day during the fair week, doing his regular shift at the police department from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., then working at the fair from 4:30 p.m. to midnight.

"I have mixed emotions, really," he said. "I get extra money, but I'll enjoy the extra sleep (after the fair)," he said.

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"This gives people something to do for seven days. There's really nothing to do in this part of the county. After the fair, there's nothing. Then, crime goes up because there's nothing to do."

Besides getting some sleep, Rood said he plans to spend an entire day with Mandy and Caleb after the fair.

County Commissioner Jason Stephens said he will miss the fair and its bloomin' onions. His five-year-old son Wesley has also enjoyed the "fish ride."

"Everyone enjoys the fair, but they're glad when it's over," he joked.

Carrie Cheek, education coordinator for the Lawrence Soil and Water Conservation District, echoed Stephens' sentiments.

"It's nice getting to see people and have more contact with those you don't see every day," Cheek said from her booth at the air-conditioned Payne building. "It's nice to get away from the office, but it's nice to come back to it, too."

Because she has been working 46 hours per week, Cheek said her Rottweiler Blazer becomes lonely because no one is available to throw a ball to him.

However, Brianna Hairston of Pedro and her best friend Heather Wheeler of Kitts Hill, both 12, will definitely miss the fair and their 4-H project animals.

"I'll miss the rides, the cute boys and the food," Wheeler said. "I got a new boyfriend at the fair. His name is Michael

uh, I forget what his last name is."

While Hairston's rabbits Cad and Berry are fortunate enough to be spared because they are breeding rabbits, Wheeler's lamb Fuzzy Wuzzy will not be as lucky. Last year, Wheeler ate her lamb because her family received a package of meat that had her name on it. She said she has already cried over Fuzzy Wuzzy.

Fair life does not end for some of the fair's regulars.

"T-Shirts! I got T-shirts!" yelled Christina Botschka, a Russia native now living in Columbus working at a carnival booth.

"Yeah, I'm going to miss the fair," she said. "It's fun to meet new people, and I get to scream and yell."

When the Lawrence County Fair ends, Botschka will pack up and go to another fair.

This particular fair, however, does not end for others.

Fair Board President Doug Clark and others working with him will spend the week after the fair cleaning up and turning off utilities. When that is over, they will begin planning for next year. All of the fair board members are volunteers, and if some members are paid anything, the pay is very minimal for all the work that the members do. Many of them lose work hours during the fair week, and the only time they have a vacation is during the fair week.

Clark said he has also lived on a steady stream of hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and barbecue sandwiches.

"And hot fudge cake," he said. "I can't forget that."

"You see people here, and this is the only time out of the year you see them," Clark said. "I see several people I went to school with here."

Randy Lambert, chairman of the barn committee, said his only vacation out of the year is the fair. He and his wife Letha lived in a camper during the week of the fair, hosting campground cookouts for their temporary neighbors.

"The fair itself never ends. The thinking never ends," Lambert said. "It takes you a week or two to put everything up, then you make improvements."

"This week, it's been great to reminisce. You'll see kids of kids you've helped here. They cheer each other on at competition. I've never had a problem out of the kids, and I'm proud of them."