Veterans join to open Orleans County 4-H Fair for ‘best week of the year’

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Jim Freas from the Medina VFW, John Follman and Scott Goetze from the Lyndonville American Legion wait to raise the flag during opening ceremonies of the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 25 July 2023 at 7:39 am

KNOWLESVILLE – In Orleans County, this is the best week of the year, said Barry Flansburg, as he waited to speak at the opening ceremonies of the Orleans County 4-H Fair Monday night.

While Flansburg was at the fair on Monday as a representative of Assemblyman Steve Hawley, his involvement in the Orleans County 4-H Fair goes back to the early 1970s, when he stood in the first pie tin they made to get into the Guinness World Book of Records.

As a youth he worked with Pauline Lanning in the Senior Council Stand and went on to announce the greased pole competition for 40 years.

Flansburg explained Hawley has never missed an opening of the fair since he has been in office, but on Monday he needed to be in Albany.

“Steve was president of the Cooperative Extension board in Genesee County and I was former president here,” Flansburg said. “You’ll see Steve here later in the week.”

(Left) Danielle Schmidt, a 2022 graduate of Medina High School, sings the national anthem on Monday  evening. She is also showing animals in the llama and beef competitions. (Right) John Follman, left, and Scott Goetze from the Houseman-Tanner American Legion Post in Lyndonville raise the flag during ceremonies to open the Orleans County 4-H Fair Monday night.

The opening ceremonies took place at 6 p.m. at the flag pole in front of the Education Center, with flag raising by representatives of Orleans County’s American Legions and VFW. Many of the veterans said they had been coming to the opening ceremony for 10 to 20 years.

The national anthem was sung by Danielle Schmidt, a 2022 graduate of Medina High School who has been showing llamas at the fair for several years. This fair she will compete in the beef show for the first time.

In addition to Flansburg, speakers included County Legislator Bill Eick; State Sen. Rob Ortt; Natalie Seal, president of the Cooperative Extension’s board of directors; Shawn Cook, fair manager; and the 2022 fair king and queen, Jimmy Scheid and Grace Gregoire.

Ed Morgan, an Orleans County legislator and member of Cooperative Extension board with Eick, was also in attendance. Eick said more of the legislators would have been there but they were in Chicago attending a Homeland Security seminar.

(Left) Fair supporters Barry Flansburg, left, and Orleans County legislators Bill Eick and Ed Morgan chat while waiting for the fair’s opening ceremonies to begin. (Right) State Sen. Rob Ortt shares his admiration for rural county fairs during Monday’s opening ceremonies of the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

Eick’s involvement with the fair goes back to his childhood, when he showed cattle, beginning at age 11. He went on to show cattle while in high school, and participated in FFA. All three of his children showed animals at the fair.

“There is a group of kids who showed here and now have grown up and their children are showing here,” Flansburg said.

Ortt praised the fair and said he hasn’t missed one since he first ran for office and this was the first event he attended as a candidate.

“This is a great fair that highlights life in a rural ag community,” he said. “It is a great way for families to come together and have and unexpensive evening together.”

Ortt further said this is the only fair he knows of that opens with a ceremony recognizing veterans. He stressed the importance of patriotism and said the values we enjoy in our farm communities are in jeopardy.

“Steve and I are working very hard to make sure these values continue for many years in the future,” he said.

Seal welcomed fairgoers and recognized those who made it possible.

Cook thanked the volunteers, without whom he said they couldn’t do it.

“We make many improvements every year, and this year is no exception,” he said.

In addition to numerous exhibits, animal shows daily, a variety of food vendors and entertainment, special events include the Nutrifair luncheon on Wednesday and the Cornell chicken barbecue on Thursday. Friday will feature Medina’s canal cruise-in at the fair, with the evening ending with fireworks.

Shawn Cook, fair manager, welcomes guests to the Orleans County 4-H Fair. Waiting to speak at right are Barry Flansburg, representing Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Senator Rob Ortt; and Natalie Seal, president of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s board.