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Allegany County Fair honors 4-H members who died in fire

Photos by Kathryn Ross

At the Allegany County Fair Vesper Service, members of the Genesee Valley Chorus show benches that were dedicated.


ANGELICA — Five 4-H Club members who died in a house fire in April were honored with their own bench by the Allegany County Fair Board.

Each year the board selects individuals or couples to dedicate the fair to and presents them with specially made wooden benches with the honorees’ names inscribed on them. The benches are then installed on the fairgrounds during fair week and then stored until the next fair.

At the Vesper Service on July 17 to open and bless the week ahead, two benches were dedicated. The first went to retired and past board president Karen Tripp and her husband Glenn. She was involved with the fair for 30 years, spending 15 years on the board and seven years as president. Earlier this year she moved out of the area.

Fair board president Harry Hurd (left) stands by as former president Karen Tripp receives a certificate of appreciation presented by Allegany County Legislature Chairman Phillip Stockin.

A surprise came when Board President Harry Hurd took the microphone and said, “This is probably the hardest thing this fair has ever gone through. Earlier this year we lost five 4-H children all of whom participated in this fair. Now they have a bench that honors them and will be a memorial to them on the fairgrounds for years to come.”

The 4-H’rs, Mikala Roulo and Krysta Kane and Raymond, Triston and Evan Erway were staying at the Charles and Michele Erway home in Genesee, Pa., on April 11 when the home caught fire early in the morning. The Erways attempted to save the children, who were in the basement of the home, and suffered life-threatening injuries as a result. The children could not escape.

Michele Erway, who was hospitalized in critical condition for several weeks, and Charles Erway, who was also hospitalized with his injuries, attended the vesper service, clinging to each other as the bench was revealed.

Following the dedication, the Genesee Valley Chorus sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Allegany County Legislature Chairman Phillip Stockin also presented Tripp with a certificate of appreciation from the legislature.

Hurd, who headed up the Equine Division for many years before becoming part of the executive board and advancing to president, recognized former long-time fair board president Martha Roberts, who was in the audience.

“I learned half of what I know about running the fair from Karen (Tripp) and the other half from Martha,” Hurd said.

Later, the Rev. Fred Francisco gave a sermon on the relationship between God and farmers and an agrarian society.

The Allegany County Fair, which runs through Saturday, is planned each year by the Allegany County Agricultural Society and is classed as an agricultural fair.

The Genesee Valley Chorus brought the service to an end, inviting the audience to sing along to “God Bless America.”

Fair schedule:

At 3 p.m. the midway opens and at 6:30 p.m. the kid’s rodeo takes place in front of the grandstand. At 7:30 p.m. The Boys and Bulls Rodeo starts.

At 9 a.m. Youth and 4-H events start and at 3 p.m. the Midway opens. At 4:30 p.m. the FFA will host a chicken barbecue in the mini theater. At 6 p.m. the Outlaw Pulling Series takes place in front of the Grandstand.

At 8 a.m. the fair starts with the Open Riding Horse Show and at 9 a.m. the Open Class Beef Show starts. At 11 a.m. the Youth Barnyard Olympics takes place and the Allegany County Talent Show starts in the Mini Theater. At noon, the Midway opens and at 4 p.m. the Power Wheels Demolition Derby takes place in front of the Grandstand. At 5 p.m. the Demolition Derby takes place in front of the Grandstand. At 11 p.m. the Allegany County Fair closes for the year. Throughout Fair Week there will be musical entertainment taking place in the Mini Theater daily. The exhibition barns will also be open and the high school food booths will serve specials each day.