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AUGUST 08, 2024


The Faces of a Fair

WOW! We’ve made it through the 89th Annual State Fair of WV.  What an amazing ride it was.  Now that the rides are gone, the animals have moved back to their homes and you can no longer smell the goodness of tasty, deep-fried treats, there is a feeling of sadness on the grounds.

We, the staff of the SFWV, work tirelessly year around to produce a Fair that is committed to our traditions of agriculture, education and family fun.  To make that happen we create and value the partnerships that we have with our sponsors, commercial exhibitors, food concessionaires, exhibitors, carnival operator, volunteers and so many more!!  You’ve likely heard the phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’; well I say that ‘It takes a village to create a Fair’!  Here are just a few of their stories.

Daniel Porter's 1st Fair
Daniel Porter’s 1st Fair

The Cross family has been with the State Fair of WV as a food concessionaire since 1979.  Starting with the Elephant Ear trailer, then adding Cowboy Dan’s in 1985 then Billy Bob’s in 1991.  You can visit any one of their 3 food operations (Billy Bob’s, Cowboy Dan’s Meathouse or Elephant Ears) and find everything from italian sausage, to elephant ears, to sweet potato fries, to the infamous donut burger!!  Beginning with their father, Dan Cross, and now with Becky, Danielle, Debbie, David and other family members, the traditions of deep fried dough, scrumptious burgers and sausages is set to continue.  Coming right along to follow in the family business is baby Daniel, 3rd generation ‘Cowboy Dan’; pictured here with his mother, Danielle, at his very first State Fair of WV!  Before you know it Daniel will likely be able to show us all a thing or two about life as a food concessionaire.


David Hlay - Trudy's Dairy World
David Hlay – Trudy’s Dairy World

Celebrating 60 years of ice cream tradition in 2013 was the Hlay family, owners of Trudy’s Dairy World.  Now 87 years old, David Hlay, remembers when the State Fair of WV was a much smaller affair and Mr. Tom Sydenstricker, was Fair Manager. David began his time with the State Fair in 1953 with a small ice cream truck, selling ice cream cones for a mere $0.10 a piece!! The Fair continued to grow and expand over the next several years.  The growth of the grounds and indeed the growth of business lead Hlay to build a permanent structure in 1984 near the State Fair Cafeteria ~ considered to be a prime location within the Fair.  Sons, David & Steve, carry on the traditions of Trudy’s Dairy World, year after year ~ fair after fair.  Family patriarch, David, sums up 60 years of changes by saying, “The shows are better, the horses are bigger; we just love it.”

2013 Carnival Midway by Reithoffer Shows
2013 Carnival Midway by Reithoffer Shows

Reithoffer Shows has provided our Carnival Midway for over 20 years now. Over that time, the Fair’s midway has expanded to 50 rides that are suitable for all ages and appeal to even the most daring of Fairgoers.  Reithoffer Shows has been a family owned and operated business since 1896 when Julius Reithoffer purchased a steam-driven carousel.  Originally moving from town to town via railways, the show was able to expand their route when they took to the roads in 1918.  By splitting the show into units and focusing on rides, Reithoffer was able to bring the business through the tough times of the Depression.  Entering into the 60’s and 70’s, saw an upswing in excitement as super spectacular rides were brought into the midways.  The 5th generation of Reithoffers are poised and ready to continue taking the Show into the future.  We now offer Mega Passes & Big Passes that are good for unlimited carnival rides for any day of the Fair along with an assortment of games, food and more!

Some of our 'Faces of the Fair'
Some of our ‘Faces of the Fair’

To make the State Fair of WV happen, we count on our employees and volunteers for execution of our programs, entertainment schedules, judging of exhibits/competitions, cleaning and just about anything else you can think of that might need to be done.  Craig ~ Concessions Manager for Reithoffer Shows, Greg ~ owner of Miller & Co. Concessions and Phoebe ~ member of the SFWV Board of Directors came together to serve as judges for the ‘Next Big Fair Food’ competition while Nick ~ General Manager for Reithoffer Shows and Donna ~ from First Energy Corporation eagerly greeted Fairgoers as they brought canned goods (to be donated to area food banks) for Magic Monday.  All though Randi ~ Special Events & Concessions Manager and Kelly ~ Agricultural Programs Manager, both have their hands full with their normal Fair responsibilities, however, it’s not unusual to find them collecting trash or shoveling out barns; in this photo they were able to steal a few moments to meet the members of Parmalee! Also pictured is Garret – WV Building Coordinator for 2013, posing for a ‘selfie’ with Randi as they were headed out to award some of our Concessionaires with medals for well decorated and represented booth spaces.

So you see, these are just a very few of the faces (and some of their stories) that make the State Fair of WV a ‘Tradition to Treasure’!


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