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  • Galena Country Fair

Planning committee recalls memories of the fair

Frances Beadle, two years

“My first year was interesting with the near constant rain and mud. It did allow me to take it all I had to learn at a less chaotic pace!”

Tracy Furlong, 15 years

“Last year was a pretty memorable one due to the wet weather. I’ve experienced some cool fair weekends and some hot fair weekends, but never such a wet, swampy weekend. Going in that weekend, I didn’t realize that I was going to spend hours upon hours both days spreading straw. On such a tough weather weekend, the fair goers still showed up, the volunteers stepped up, everyone pitched in where needed and we pulled off another year.”

John Herting, about 15 years

“We’ve had fairs on sunny days, rainy days and snow days, but we never cancelled the fair.”

Joellen Holland, many years

“For most of my life, I have lived near Grant Park and remember going to the fair, even as a child. It is such a great Galena tradition, one that has been enjoyed by so many community members as well as visitors. Walking through the fair, it is really amazing to see the number of local people (not only from Galena but also surrounding towns), even whole families, who volunteer to make Country Fair a success. It think that is something that our area can be very proud of.”

Mary Ellen Lyne organizes the children's game area every year. In addition to the games, children can get their face painted.

Mary Ellen Lyne, 26 years

“One year when I was face painting some kids were standing near me talking to one of my young volunteer workers. I heard one boy ask the young volunteer why he was helping when nobody else was. The young volunteer worker told the boy that the money that the fair earned was going to help many people. I got tears in my eyes. I was so touched that this young volunteer knew why we did all we do to make the fair (a success). I remember that story often and I’m sure that boy didn’t realize that he touched me with so few words.”

Andy Miller, about 30 years

“I have all kinds of memories of years past, from 80-degree hot days, blistering cold years and last year’s monsoon weekend with all the rain.”

Libby Miller (right) has volunteered for nearly 40 years. She's worked as office cashier, brat tent worker and organizer, volunteer coordinator and assistant and in the information tent.

Libby Miller, since around 1980

“There are many memories. I think the most memorable weather was the year we operated the fair in a blizzard with boots, coats and mittens.”

Michelle Murdock, 12 years

“As volunteer coordinator I work with parishes and other organizations throughout the county to organize all the volunteers needed to help at the fair’s booths.”

Joan Ricketts, about 30 years

“After having sloppy joes in the McCountry booth for a few years, I switched to hamburgers and was assured that I would have a stove to cook these. I came in the Friday of Country Fair weekend and found an old stove about 18 inches wide with small burners to cook on. I scrambled to buy a table-top grill and got another one from a friend. The hamburgers were cooked on the grills and placed in roaster pans to keep warm, so it all worked out.”

Jerry Rust, 32 years

“I can remember it being so cold we had straw bales on our feet to keep warm. In the early days we sold can beer out of a cattle trough.”

John Trannel, about 20 years

“It always amazes me to find how friendly the customers at the fair are when you sell beer to them. The whole fair has a laid-back relaxing feeling. Ralph Tranel made sure all his volunteer workers were fed and had plenty to drink while working the fair. The beer volunteers seemed to work longer shifts than some of the other booths, but Ralph made sure that he made you feel special and that you wanted to come back and help the next year.”

Linda Virtue, since 1997

“Started in brat tent with Michael Virtue, Paul Jackson and Judy Jackson, then became treasurer when Deb Schromen retired.”

by Hillary Dickerson

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