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'A family tradition': Washington County Agricultural Fair prepares for opening

Before Nicole Carson could walk or talk, she was already following her family’s footsteps by showing dairy cattle every year at the Washington County Agricultural Fair.

For months, Carson has been preparing her cattle for the fair with her uncle, Bruce Carson. As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, Carson, 20, of Coal Center, remembers growing up surrounded by her animals, family and camping on the fairgrounds for the full week since she was a baby.

“My first show was when I was a month old,” Carson said. “We take cattle every year together. It’s become such a bonding experience with my family that we talk about what we need to do to get prepared for the show months in advance.”

The fair runs from today through Saturday at the county fairgrounds. Fair Board President Todd Richards said he’s looking forward to seeing the annual 70,000 people come out.

“We can only hope to have favorable weather this year so everyone who comes out gets to enjoy every minute,” Richards said. “We always have a great time with friends and family.”

Kelsie May, a singer from the television show “The Voice,” will be performing today. Richards said he’s excited to see her performance.

“She’ll be performing right after our very own Scott Shelby, which I, for one, can’t wait to see,” Richards said.

Here are the daily sponsors for the fair:

Sunday, Aug. 11: Makripodis Olive Oil Day

Monday, Aug. 12: Bioni Industries Day, Senior Day $3 admission

Tuesday, Aug. 13: Log Cabin Fence Day

Wednesday, Aug. 14: Range Resources Day

Thursday, Aug. 15: Murphy Family Day and Hapchuk Day

Friday, Aug. 16: Ambulance and Chair Day, Children 12 & under $5 admission

Saturday, Aug. 17: Waste Management Day

A detailed schedule of all fair events can be viewed at or the fair’s Facebook page.

Even though Carson recently aged out of being able to show cattle, she still plans to go every year. When she was a teenager, Carson became close friends with other kids who were showing animals in the livestock contests.

“We all grew up together, so we became really close. We used to camp out the entire week at the fairgrounds,” Carson said. “Even now, we’re all still close, so we keep in contact as much as possible.”

In 2016, Carson was named the Washington Dairy Princess, the third in her family to receive the award. Her great-uncle Clyde Robison was the fair board president for several years.

“The fair has taught me so much about winning and losing in life and how to handle it,” Carson said. “My family and I are all so passionate about our animals, so we love bringing them out.”

Amber Cooper, 34, of Washington, is helping her 8-year-old daughter, Emma Redd, show pigs for the first time this year.

“It taught me so much growing up,” Cooper said. “Now that my daughter is able to show I can’t wait to see how she does. She can handle herself, hold her own and knows how to treat the animals, so I know she’s going to do great.”

Cooper first started coming to the fair with her parents when she was a toddler. Over the years, she has shown rabbits, chickens, turkeys and pigs, but her favorite to show were her horses.

“It’s always been a huge part of my life. I just remember being so excited as a kid to do this every year that it became like my summer vacation,” Cooper said. “We love being able to talk about the animals and how to handle them with everyone else. We just want everyone to come out and learn about them; that’s the entire point of animal showing.”

Katie Crouch, 18, of Canonsburg, enters her artwork and photography into the art and crafts contests.

“When I was little I couldn’t fall asleep so I used to watch Bob Ross videos to get tired,” Crouch said. “I started drawing in the third grade and haven’t stopped.”

Crouch, who has been entering her artwork every year since 2013, used her love for art and turned it into a major at Champlin Pittsburgh College. She plans to study graphic design in the fall.

“In high school, I competed in a competition for graphic design and won first place with some friends. It was great and taught me more about my art skills,” Crouch said.

Fair hours are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. all week. Daily admission is $10, which includes shows, entertainment, petting zoo and free parking at the various fairground lots. Rides open at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. all other days. Children 4 and younger who do not want to go on rides are admitted free.

Visitors can get weekly passes for $30, but that does not include rides.

Celeste Van Kirk / Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter 


Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Washington County’s Matthew Smith,center, smack hands with Tyler Johnson after they both score against London in the Pony League World Series at Lew Hays pony field in Washington on Saturday, August 10, 2019.

Celeste Van Kirk / Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter 


Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Mark McMillan,11, of Washington scores a run in The Miracle League of Champions at Pony League World Series at Lew Hays pony field in Washington on Saturday, August 10, 2019.

Families mourn, bury those killed in Ohio, Texas shootings

DAYTON, Ohio – Mourners gathered across the country Saturday to remember the lives of a graduate student beloved by friends, a man who died in his son’s arms and a mother who shielded her infant from gunfire.

The funerals were among several being held for people who died in mass shootings last weekend in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. Investigators in Texas said a gunman opened fire at a Walmart on Aug. 3, targeting Mexicans and killing 22 people. Less than 24 hours later, another shooter killed nine people in a popular Dayton nightlife area.

Every seat was filled and the hallways were lined with mourners at Piatt and Barnhill Funeral Home in Washington at the service for 25-year-old Nicholas Cumer. The graduate student in the master of cancer care program at Saint Francis University in Loretto was killed in Dayton.

“He just wanted to bring everybody together,” said his friend, Mike Hammond, one of a half-dozen people eulogizing the Washington High School graduate.

“He was an ideal I had in my head,” Hammond said. “If I couldn’t talk to him, I could at least think, ‘What would Nick do,’ and I’d know that that would lead me in the right direction.”

Elementary school teachers, high school friends, fraternity brothers and relatives were joined by scores of others as white folding chairs were set up in the parking lot to handle the overflow.

“He was just infectious. He had a heart bigger than his chest,” said Pastor Brian Greenleaf of Washington Alliance Church after officiating the service.

Greenleaf started the service by saying Cumer would probably be “smiling and laughing throughout this whole service.”

“Because the images I have of Nick are just that,” the pastor said. “Heaven is a little bit better today because of Nicholas Cumer.”

Hundreds of people, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, attended Derrick Fudge’s funeral at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton, the Dayton Daily News reported. Fudge died in the arms of his son, Dion Green. He was remembered as a loving family man who painted houses and loved to fish and cook.

Green said his father spoke often of his willingness to die for him. Green previously told the Springfield News-Sun he believes his father protected him from being killed. Green said Saturday that his father, who was 57, was a great person who was always there to help when needed.

In a eulogy for her brother, Twyla Southall said Fudge lived a “simple” life, but one he loved.

“I don’t understand why my brother died in his son’s arms, but I am so grateful he was there for his father,” Southall said.

Burial services for Saeed Saleh, 38, were also held Saturday morning in Dayton, according to the Daily News. Saleh, who was originally from Eritrea and recently immigrated to the United States, was remembered as a “humble and quiet person” by a spokesman for the family.

In El Paso, a requiem Mass was offered for 15-year-old Javier Amir Rodriguez, a high school sophomore and avid soccer player who was at the Walmart with his uncle when he was killed.

Burial was also scheduled for Jordan Anchondo, who died shielding her infant son from gunfire. Her 2-month-old son was treated for broken bones, but was orphaned after Jordan and her husband, Andre, were killed.