The Crawford County Fair may be more than half over, but the number of Titusville area residents competing doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
By far one of the largest showings by a single group from the region were the Silver Spurs 4-H group. On Wednesday, kids and teens from Titusville, Cherrytree, Chapmanville and more came together through the group to show off their equestrian skills, even though some early morning rain had muddied the field.
While the girls who have banded together through the Silver Spurs may come from multiple different backgrounds and hometowns, they seem to share a similar story in terms of how they got into horseback riding. Ask anyone of them about their origins in the hobby, and most will likely say they have been riding their whole life, having been brought in by their families.
Olivia Gray, a 17-year-old Titusville resident, went so far as to say that she had been riding since she “was in my mother’s womb.”
Gray brought her recently purchased thoroughbred horse Georgie to the fair. A former racehorse, Georgie was a newcomer to the fair’s competitions this year. As for Gray, she said she’s attended the fair every year of her life except one. While the competitive nature of horse shows might attract some, Gray said she’s more drawn to the sport by the love for the animals than the drive for ribbons, though she does still vie for a win.
Cherrytree resident Jillian Baldwin, who is 14 years old, found describing her enjoyment of horse riding a bit difficult.
“I don’t know,” Baldwin said. “I mean, just being on a horse and being able to control it with how big it is (is enjoyable).”
Baldwin brought her appendix horse, Kimmie to the fair, who she has ridden for six years. The pair took part in the horse barrels gaming event previously in the fair, and competed in the English pleasure category on Wednesday.
Carlan Turner, a 14-year-old from Titusville, brought her quarter horse Kai to the fair to contend in the western pleasure class.
Her brother, Luke Turner, competed with Kai earlier in the week, placing sixth in a premium leadline contest.
Carlan Turner has ridden horses since she was 2 years old. Riding horses in a group like the Silver Spurs is something she most enjoys out of the sport.
“Just being able to ride,” Carlan Turner said when asked what her favorite thing about horseback riding was. “The opportunity to ride with family and friends, and do all the 4-H stuff.”
Sidonie Hipple, 15, of Titusville, gave herself a bit of a boost at the fair by bringing her quarter horse named Lucky. A rider for seven years, Hipple identified the closeness of the Silver Spurs to one another as one of its greatest strengths.
“We’re more of a family instead of a group, because everyone respects each other,” she said.
Two of the youngest Silver Spurs members taking part in competitions Wednesday were Maddison Caldwell and Sydney Sherwood, both age 9 and from Titusville.
Caldwell, alongside her mini-horse Cinnamon, claimed a Grand Champion ribbon during the fair, something she said she was honored to win.
Sherwood, meanwhile, took part in a fairly unique kind of riding challenge at the fair called egg and spoon. As the title alludes, equestrians must balance an egg on a spoon while riding around, and are eliminated if their egg falls.
In addition to competing in that event, Sherwood also took part in a keyhole race earlier in the week, which requires riders to quickly maneuver their horses in a keyhole pattern. In this, Sherwood managed to win fifth-place ribbon.
Another member of the Silver Spurs, Annabelle Williams, also competed in the egg and spoon races.
Williams is 10 years old and hails from Chapmanville. According to her, she has ridden horses before she was even able to have memories.
“I know my mom and dad used to throw me up on my pony and let me walk into the field,” Williams said with a laugh. “But I don’t remember that.”
Not all of the Titusville area horseback riders who competed were part of the Silver Spurs, nor were they all kids. Julie Drusko, of Oil Creek Township, was also a competitor, bringing her horses Roby and Baylee. Exemplifying a lifelong commitment to horseback riding, Drusko is 41 and said she has ridden since she was only 5 years old.
“I never grew out of horses, I guess,” Drusko said.
Roby claimed a third place ribbon in the English pleasure category, while Baylee took home a sixth place spot in a trail class. Drusko said she plans to compete in even more events next year, though will have to get her horses ready for the task.
“I really like the thrill of competing,” she said.
Titusville area residents weren’t just involved in horse riding on Wednesday. Locals competed in agricultural events ranging from pigs, calves, goats and more, with several taking home high-placing ribbons.
Titusville 6-year-old Hunter Reagle, fresh off his blue ribbon win on Tuesday, claimed first in the 4-H and open market class with his pig Fluff. While feeling “really good” about his victory, Reagle said he felt excited about finally being able to take a break from farm competitions and enjoy the rides at the fair instead.
Titusville native Jade Wilson claimed multiple titles in the 4 LEAF 4-H’er awards, winning Champion in the flowers, nature and science and textile science categories, while also nabbing a Reserve Champion in the food and nutrition division. In addition, Wilson won a $30 award from the Family Living Department in recognition of her achievements.
Sisters Madalynn and Kali Rankin, who are 15 and 17 years old respectively, won high marks for their steers. Representing their family farm from Centerville, Kali Rankin won Champion Showman and first in class with her steer, while Madalynn Rankin claimed a Grand Champion banner for her shorthorn heifer.
Both were also awarded the Grand Champion title for best bred and owned in their respective divisions. Kali Rankin also previously won a first in fitting and second in showman earlier in the week.
While some people might balk at the amount of work required to care for a steer, Kali Rankin said she and her sister enjoy it.
“I guess (we enjoy) just being able to go to the barn every day,” she said. “They’re more like family than animals to us.”
All of that effort was well worth it, according to Madalynn Rankin.
“I guess it feels nice to have all your hard work pay off,” she said about the duo’s victories.
Also competing in the steer contests were Camden and Huston Mattocks, of Titusville. Members of the Cross Trainers 4-H group, Camden Mattocks expressed similar sentiments to the Rankins in terms fo why he enjoys raising steer.
“I like the responsibility it gives us,” he said.
Huston Mattocks, 16, said the pair feed, wash and walk their steers every single day. For their efforts, Camden Mattocks took home a second place spot in his class, while Huston claimed a fourth place spot.
Deeter Farms, located just outside of Titusville, sent two of their youngest farmers to compete in the calf contests on Wednesday. Brynn and Maeve Byham, ages 6 and 3 respectively, brought their calves Crow and Sunshine to compete.
While both intended to be brown cows in color, Crow earned his name after he was born with black spots, despite none of the cow’s immediate family sharing the same trait. Despite this, Brynn Byham said Crow is her favorite cow, though she admitted she found the chore of cleaning the animal’s ears “terrifying.”
Maeve Byham, meanwhile, claimed a fifth place spot. This was her first year competing, and Byham thought she did “good.”
Titusville native Andrew Wheeling, 14, also competed in the calves showings with his cow Reba, though he admitted he thought his performance was lackluster.
“I definitely could do better,” he said. “Though for only walking her a few times, she’s done good.”
Wheeling recently obtained Reba in February and, due to also playing baseball, wasn’t able to do much preparation work with her ahead of the fair.
He saw better luck with his other cow, Addie, who won a first place ribbon on Tuesday.
Families competing together seemed to be a theme for many Titusville area residents taking part in the fair. One of the larger groups of siblings to take part were the Hargers from Centerville, who had five sisters showing off their dairy goats.
The oldest among them, Abby Harger, age 13, claimed a second place position in the senior fitting division with her goat Black Tulip.
“I feel like I’m doing good, but each year, I feel like I’m getting better,” Abby Harger said of her performance. She hopes to one day achieve the master showman title.
The Hargers claimed many ribbons across the five of them, with quite a few being communal efforts. One such victory was winning a best of sire ribbon, which requires showing off three goats all from the same father.
“It’s really hard to win that one,” said Esther Harger, age 8. “Most people don’t have that one — three from the same sire.”
The 10-year-old Rebekah Harger and 12-year-old Lydia Harger, along similar lines, won a produce of dame ribbon.
That contest is the same as the best of sire, except the goats must be from the same mother instead. Lydia Harger also claimed second place in the 5 years and over doe division.
“I like raising goats, because they’re a little bit smaller than cows but still make milk,” Lydia Harger said. “It’s easier to raise goats.”
The 7-year-old Sarah Harger, despite being surrounded by family members at the fair, felt a little lonely at the dairy goat contests.
This is because she’s not old enough to compete in the 4-H sections yet, while all of her older siblings can. Despite this, she said she’s happy to show alongside her sisters, even if she can’t directly compete with them.
The youngest Harger gave praise to her goat Lily, whom she noted to be very well behaved.
“She stands really still whenever I’m nearby,” Sarah Harger said, further explaining that makes Lily easy to control.
The family said they are really looking forward to the fudge auction, a new addition to the Crawford County Fair which will take place on Saturday, at 2 p.m. Abby, Lydia and Rebekah Harger will all be selling fudge made from the milk of their goats.
The Crawford County Fair continues today and runs through Saturday. Gates open at 8 a.m.
Ray can be reached, by email, at email@example.com.