County fair wraps up with demolition derby, livestock sale
The Franklin County Fair concluded its eight-day run July 21 at the county fairgrounds in Hilliard.
Fair organizers said they were pleased with the event. While precise attendance figures are yet to be determined, they said an excellent turnout the final two days of the fair likely will result in matching the typical attendance of about 30,000 to 40,000 people.
"The fair went very well; we had a few weather days (in the middle of the week), but attendance was great Friday and Saturday (nights)," said Allison Rushley, a senior fair board member.
The fair concluded with its traditional demolition derby, though the field was thinner than in recent years.
Always the fair's biggest draw, overflowing the grandstand as well as a for-fee viewing area in the pits, Rushley said drivers from throughout central and southeast Ohio reported having greater difficulty finding vehicles to build.
Saturday's derby began at 7:30 p.m. and concluded shortly after 9 p.m., whereas previous derbies sometimes concluded after 11 p.m.
The 4-H Junior Fair Livestock Sale, another staple of the fair's last day, also was smaller than in past years.
The lingering recession has had an impact on the ability of 4-H members to raise and show animals, as well as limiting top bidding prices on grand and reserve champion animals, fair officials said.
The 1,305-pound Ohio grand champion market steer fetched a winning bid of $3,500 from a block of buyers: Franklin Equipment, B&B Forklift Services and Sales and Capital City Mechanical Services.
Justin Shonkwiler, 19, and a member of the Lucky Ropers 4-H Club, showed the grand champion.
The animal also was the reserve national champion of the American Junior Shorthorn Association.
A graduate of Central Crossing High School in Grove City, the fair was Shonkwiler's 10th and final season in 4-H.
"(Being in 4-H) is a great way to meet people and it teaches responsibility that helps you in so many other ways in life," Shonkwiler said.
It also has other tangible benefits, as Shonkwiler estimates he has made about $50,000 to $60,000 during a 4-H career in which he has sold six grand champion steers.
Raised on his family farm, STS Cattle Co., Shonkwiler will attend the Ohio State University's Agricultural Technical Institute.
Corey Gossard of Galloway, a member of the Hellbranch 4-H Club, received a bid of $2,000 from Huffman's Market for the 1,360-pound reserve champion market steer.
Shonkwiler also received a $2,000 bid from Franklin Equipment, B&B Forklift Services and Sales and Capital City Mechanical Services for his 495-pound grand champion cattle beef feeder calf.
Kendra Gabriel of Stoutsville, a member of the Lucky Ropers 4-H Club, received a bid of $5,000 from Gabriel Family Farms for her 512-pound reserve champion cattle beef feeder.
Gabriel also won numerous other awards, including a "Showman of Showmen" title for best overall presentations.
Lane Brobst, of Groveport and the Groveport Buttoneers, received a bid of $550 from three Franklin County officials -- Engineer Dean Ringle, Sheriff Zach Scott and Recorder Daphne Hawke -- for the 550-pound grand champion dairy beef feeder.
It was the first grand champion for Brobst, 15, a student at Canal Winchester High School.
Grand and reserve champions are named on the second day of the fair, so Brobst had been aware all week of the title.
"I was excited to have the grand champion," said Brobst, explaining the animal's weight, appearance, grooming and how the presenter shows the animal are all factors.
"That's why working with your animal all season is so important," she said.
Nick Keil, of Grove City and the Hellbranch 4-H Club, received $550 from Capital City Mechanical Services for the 542-pound reserve champion dairy beef feeder.
Aaron Stephenson, of Ashville and the Grove City Clover Crew, received $850 from Faler Feed Store for his grand champion market goat.
The goat was the sixth grand champion Stephenson, a Teays Valley High School graduate, has shown in his final season.
"Being in 4-H taught me responsibility and helped me build a college fund," he said.
Stephenson will attend Columbus State Community College, where he will study HVAC technology.
His younger brother, Kyle, received $600 from Kroger for his reserve champion market goat.
Nevauda Leach, of Orient and Country Town 4-H Club, showed the grand champion and reserve champion rabbit, as well as the grand champion "pen of three" rabbit.
She received $175 from Arrow Radiator and Auto Glass for the grand champion rabbit; $25 from Champion Feed and Pet Supply for the reserve champion; and $250 from Champion Feed and Pet Supply for the pen of three competition.
Ben Kieffer, of Hilliard and Barnbusters 4-H, received $350 from the Poseidon Pool Co. for the grand champion roaster, 14 pounds and over.
Abby Russell, of Hilliard and the Young Riders 4-H Club, received $200 from Scott for the reserve champion roaster.
Russell also received $150 from Reiterman Feeds for the grand champion broiler, under 14 pounds.
Gabe Casey, of Galloway and the 4-H Explorers, received $125 from the Franklin County Farm Bureau for the reserve champion.
Courtney Husch, of Columbus and the Groveport Buttoneers, received $1,300 from Scott and Hawke for the grand champion market swine.
Jaclyn Williams, of Irwin and the Green Machine 4-H Club, received $1,200 from STS Cattle Co. and Event Vision for the reserve champion market swine.
Lacey Worthington, of Grove City and the Lucky Ropers, received $150 from Franklin Equipment for the grand champion duck and $150 from Greg Hart Realty for the reserve champion.
Emma Parker, of Plain City and the Hellbranch 4-H Club, received $375 from STS Cattle Co. and Jackie Williams for the grand champion turkey.
Matthew Parker, of Plain City and the Hellbranch 4-H Club, received $400 from Gossard Landscapes for the reserve champion.
Ben Campbell, of Orient and the Hellbranch 4-H Club, received $1,100 from Huffman's Market for the grand champion market lamb.
Andrea Black, of Orient and the Country Town 4-H'ers, received $750 from B&B Forklift Services and Sales and Capital City Mechanical Services, for the reserve champion.