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Three sisters help celebrate youth choir’s 50th anniversary

Eight of the 400 alumni from Lawrence County

For three sisters from Ironton, singing is a family affair.

Connie Mayne Dziagwa, Cathy Mayne Lyttle and Cheri Mayne Barbee share a common bond aside from being sisters; all three were members of the All Ohio State Fair Youth Choir.

Dziagwa was in the choir in 1967; Cathy in 1976; and Cheri in 1982. Connie says it didn’t take much effort to encourage her younger sisters to follow in her footsteps.

“I think my sisters saw what a tremendous experience it was for me and made up their own minds to strive for it,” Dziagwa said. “A person has to be recommended for the choir by a music teacher, which makes being part of the choir very prestigious.”

The women are the daughters of the late Donald G. Mayne, of Ironton, and Dorothy E. Mayne, formerly of Ironton, now of Worthington.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the All Ohio State Fair Youth Choir and more than 400 past members of the group reunited during the event.

Since all the sisters were in the choir at different times, this event was the first time all three got to sing together as part of the group.

“It was a pretty special thing, after all these years, to get to do this together,” Dziagwa said. “It truly was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Zanesville music educator Glenville Thomas founded the statewide choir in 1963 to provide Ohio’s high school vocalist an opportunity to share a musical experience similar to the All Ohio State Fair Band.

Under Thomas’ leadership until he retired in 1991, more than 8,000 singers from Ohio stayed on the grounds during the fair and performed at various venues. The choir performed at many national events such as the Rose Bowl, Macy’s parades and on numerous European tours.

Lawrence County native Lois Eaton Craddock, of South Point, was a member of the inaugural choir in 1963 and a member again in 1964. She toured Europe in 1965 as a choir member and participated in the Macy’s parade choir in 1975.

Carole Freeman Bell, originally of South Point, now in Odessa, Texas, was also in the choir in 1963 and 1964, toured Europe in 1965 and was in the 1975 Rose Bowl Parade Choir.

Betty Barker Craddock, originally from Coal Grove, now living in South Point, was in the 1964 choir and toured Europe in 1965. She also marched with the 1975 Rose Bowl and Macy’s parades.

Teresa Montgomery Deaton, originally from South Point, now living in Lexington, Ky., was in the 1964 choir and 1965 European choir.

Paula Leach Pope, originally from Ironton, now residing in Lexington, Ky., was a member of the 1967 All Ohio State Fair Youth Choir and the 1965 European choir.

During the tribute weekend, which took place Aug. 2-3, the alumni performed several concerts and joined the current 200-voice choir in a memorable program at the fairgrounds with a rendition of one of the choir’s signature songs, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”