Remembrance of Late Sheriff, Coronation of Royalty at Jefferson Fair | News, Sports, Jobs

SMITHFIELD – As they prepared for a week full of activities and entertainment, Jefferson County Fair organizers took the time to remember a longtime supporter of the event and to cap the local youth as its king, queen, prince and princess.

On Monday, members of the late Fred Abdalla’s family, including his son, Sheriff Fred Abdalla Jr., were invited to join Jefferson County Commissioners in cutting a ribbon for the fair’s opening ceremonies.

Ray Hilderbrand, chairman of the fair’s board of directors, said that following the death of Abdalla senior earlier this year, the board considered ways to honor the late sheriff, who was a regular attendee at the fair.

Hilderbrand noted that Abdalla was named Outstanding Fair Supporter and Grand Marshal of the Fair Parade. He said the decision had been made to appoint him parade marshal again and to ask his family to represent him in the procession, which will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Hilderbrand added an office on the fairgrounds where Abdalla and his deputies kept regular hours was named for him.

The fair’s board chairman said Abdalla’s involvement with the fair goes beyond that.

He and others noted the late sheriff’s interest in local youth activities related to the fair and the various times he purchased livestock at auction to donate to a local food pantry.

Hilderbrand said Abdalla would arrive early in the morning to check out the fairgrounds and warmly greeted the many people he met there.

“Everyone knew and loved Fred. We will miss him,” he said.

Hilderbrand said news of Abdalla’s death came to him through Loretta Finney, a former fairground manager who also died this year. He said the polio survivor hadn’t let any residual effects of the disease keep him from overseeing the event for 20 years.

He also raised his hat to Debbie Hukill, the treasurer of the fair’s board of directors, who he said became the first woman to be appointed to the Ohio Fair Managers Association’s District 9 Board of Directors.

Hukill will serve a three-year term on the board, which represents nine county fairs.

She said the organization offers guidelines for local county fairground boards to comply with state guidelines for such events. She added that she looks forward, during her three-year tenure, to sharing ideas with other fair coordinators and learning things useful to her own board.

Hukill noted that the theme for this year’s fair is “Sparkling lights. Country evenings. The best of both worlds.”

She said it was appropriate because “We really try to market our fair to people from all sides of the county.”

Hukill added that she and others behind her are most excited to showcase the many talents of local youth.

“We are so proud of the young people in our county who take the time to bring projects to our fair,” she says, while acknowledging the support of their parents and the many volunteers involved.

The opening ceremonies were followed by the crowning of the fair’s royalty, which was determined through an application and interview measuring their community involvement, leadership skills and other qualities.

This year’s royalty are: Prince Caleb Miller, son of Scott and Christy Miller; Princess Kaitlynn Merkel, daughter of Heather and Jason Merkel; Queen Allison Bell, daughter of Tish and Don Bell; King Raleigh Doyle, son of Don and Alana Doyle; and members of the court of Queen Corissa Griffith, daughter of Steve and Melissa Griffith; Emma Morrison, daughter of Bob Morrison and Autumn Francis; and Lindsey Zifzal, daughter of Dwayne and Melissa Zifzal.

Visitors to the fair could tour shelters filled with assorted animals, from rabbits to horses, or exhibits covering the many activities carried out by members of local 4-H and Future Farmers of America and Scout troops and packs.

A shelter containing entries in the 8th Arts and Crafts Department was closed so they could be examined by judges, but outside were large figures resembling Cousin It, a Ghostbuster and other figures made with various household materials.

Bonnie Randolph, Junior Fair Coordinator, noted that visitors are encouraged to bring food to donate to the Steubenville Urban Mission in a large trailer parked outside the Junior Fair office.

The effort is part of the Stock the Trailer campaign launched by Farm Credit Mid-America and Rural First, with all participating junior fair boards receiving $500 and whoever collects the most food, based on weight, receives a prize of $5,000.

Visitors who passed through the junior fair area of ​​the fairgrounds found youngsters preparing horses and other animals for upcoming shows and other competitions.

In addition to an assortment of food and rides, each day at the fair features a variety of activities and entertainment. Today’s schedule includes a youth horse show at 3 p.m., music by the Ron Retzer Trio from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and a competition involving cheer teams from area schools at 6 p.m. .

Daily admission is $10 for everyone except seniors who show proof they are 70 or older and children 2 and under. But today, all children 12 and under will be admitted free.

For a full show schedule, visit

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