• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff 16

Here's Johnny - A fair time was had by all

The annual Woodford County Fair has come and gone and, after snapping 85 photos of beauty queens, adorable babies, friends and sunsets, so have I. I'll pretend Dear Readers are wondering how covering such things works for workhorse senior reporter Bob Vlach and me. Bob stays late a couple of days during the week to shoot various pageants and I do the same over the weekend. (The word "shoot," of course, refers to actions taken with a camera and not something that would quickly result in the ejection from the fairgrounds of Mr. Vlach or myself.) My weekend at the fair began, as it has the last four years, with the Miss Teen Woodford County pageant at 8 p.m. Friday. With a tornado watch set until 10 p.m. and heavy rain much of the evening, I thought the contest might be postponed. However, as Fair Board President Mary Lou Watkins explained, some of the contestants and judges had come from other counties, some as far as two hours away, and the show must go on. And so it did - while the midway was closed. There's something spooky about a bunch of rides unridden and unattended, and the row of stuffed animal prizes left outside in the rain seemed not only soggy but somehow forlorn ... While the pageant was underway, I asked one of the nice ladies running the show for a list of the contestants - preferably, written by one of the nice ladies, so if a name is misspelled or a parent misplaced, I could blame it on them. Also, their handwriting is better than mine, as evidenced by a head-scratching episode Sunday as I tried to decipher why the last name of an Adorable Baby winner was different than that of either parent. (A big thank you to Adorable Baby boss Jenny Cummins and perennial pageant organizer Sarah McCoun, who helped save me from my sloppy ways.) By 10 p.m., the show was over, pictures of the winners were taken, and I was outa there. Saturday's festivities, for me, began with the Adorable Baby pageant at 5 p.m. The sun was out, the midway was packed, and so was the Huffman Pavilion. I've never seen so many adorable babies. It is not true that there are thousands of categories in this contest. It is true that there are lots of 'em - boys and girls 0-6 months, 7-9 months, 10-15 months, 16-24 months, 25-30 months, 31-36 months. Plus, there's the multiples category, in which this year's title was shared by two sets of twins, each of whom received a two-headed trophy of some sort. By 6:30 p.m. or so, the Adorable Baby showdowns were over, and I had a break until 8 p.m., when the main event began: Miss Woodford County. Sarah, who has impeccable handwriting, provided a list of the nine contestants and their parents. After the swimsuit segment, the half-time show consisted of two mini-pageants: The parent-child look-alike contest (hint: parents and children wearing the same outfits may have an unfair advantage) and the men's Pretty Legs contest. The latter was emceed, as usual, by Woodford Sheriff Wayne "Tiny" Wright. Once again, he tried to persuade me to take part, but with a baker's cyst in my right knee having exploded the day before, my leg was swollen and stiff and I was in no shape or mood to compete. Plus, having observed the good sheriff the last few years, I knew a stroll down the runway would be accompanied by observations that would make my face as red as my right knee. I couldn't dance and I didn't want to pay the fiddler the next day. At 9:45 p.m., Miss Woodford County, Miss Woodford County Fair and a host of runners-up were announced. I took a group shot of all of them, trying to keep track of their names and numbers. Monday, perusing my almost indecipherable notes, Sarah bailed me out again, and I believe all the names of pageant winners and their parents in this week's Sun are spelled correctly. If not, as much as I'd like to blame Jenny and Sarah, the blame properly falls on me. (Tune in next week to see if there are any corrections, retractions and apologies.) My favorite task of the evening, however, was not taking pictures of the lovely ladies, babies and dancing men. It was on the way back from my car, mid-pageant Saturday night, when I saw the sun setting over the ferris wheel. The picture is on page 20 and, if I do say so myself, it's not too shabby. I'd like to offer my sincere thanks to Jenny and Sarah and Fair Board President Mary Lou Watkins, all the volunteers who made the rain-plagued 2017 Woodford County Fair easy to cover, and to the Man Upstairs for that sunset.

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