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Fair introduces entertainment to fill stomachs and hearts

  • People meander up and down the midway at the Franklin County Fair on Friday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Eighty-seven-year-old Lorraine O’Neil of Greenfield, center, looks on as Charity Noyes of Greenfield, right, finishes the last of her fried dough, taking third place in the new eating competition at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Jimmy Zellmann of Greenfield holds up his first-place medal awarded in the new fried dough eating competition. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • 87-year-old Lorraine O'Neil, from left, Charity Noyes, and her daughter Kelsey Motyl, 13, all of Greenfield, compete in the fried dough eating competition at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Members of the Celtic Heels School of Irish Dance perform on the main stage at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Fairgoers watch as pigs from Swifty Swine Productions race to the finish for an Oreo cookie treat during the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Fairgoers enjoy the Super Loop and Yo-Yo rides at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Regan Marshall, 11, of Gill, right, and Lilyana Robichaud, 7, of Petersham, jump on the euro-bungee trampoline at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Andre Bordeleau pulls his truck, Late Nights, 283.23 feet during the Franklin County Fair on Saturday in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Fairgoers peruse the chickens as the setting sun illuminates the poultry barn at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Evan Carlson, 2, of Turners Falls, rides the merry-go-round held by his cousin Krysten Lyle, of Boston, at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Evan Carlson, 2, of Turners Falls, rides the merry-go-round held by his cousin Krysten Lyle, of Boston, at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Exhaust smoke from the truck pull event looms over the grandstand as seen from the midway at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • The front gate of the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield.  RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Jacob Burniske, 5, of South Deerfield, jumps on the euro-bungee trampoline at the Franklin County Fair on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 in Greenfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



Recorder Staff
Saturday, September 09, 2017

GREENFIELD — Led by local DJ Bobby C, attendees of the Franklin County Fair counted back from 10 with gusto, their voices filling the Community Stage’s white tent.

At the end of the countdown, 13 contestants of all ages dug into trays of fried dough the size of small pizzas, biting viciously and furiously. As contestants’ cheeks puffed with dough, the captivated audience clapped rapidly and chanted “Chew! Chew! Chew!”

Only six short minutes ticked by before Jimmy Zellmann, 26, of Greenfield, stood up from the long table as winner of the Franklin County Fair’s first fried dough eating contest on Saturday.

“I’m stoked,” Zellmann said of his victory, and the $100 prize and medal. “We’ve got some money for the fair now.”

But Zellmann said he won’t be eating or going on rides anytime soon. Instead, he’ll get some air, walk and digest, a feeling that was shared by the contest’s 12 other competitors, who came together over a love for Hager’s Farm Market’s fried dough with maple cream.

“I just wanted the free fried dough,” said Charity Noyes, 36, of Greenfield, who entered alongside her 13-year-old daughter, Kelsey Motyl. “And then it was just to beat the men. I wanted to be the only woman to beat the men.”

And so it was, with Noyes taking third place and earning a $25 prize and medal. It was Noyes’ and Motyl’s first time entering an eating contest, though Motyl confessed to racing her friends to eat Jell-O at home.

An eating contest was also a new experience for 87-year-old contestant Lorraine O’Neil of Greenfield. But the fried dough was a familiar taste, and an enjoyable part of the fair she hasn’t missed since she was 4.

“My son kind of talked me into it,” she said of entering the contest. “I was kind of nervous. I kept thinking, ‘I hope I won’t choke!’”

Attracting a new contestant base and larger crowd was all part of the plan for starting a fried dough eating contest, according to Franklin County Fair Entertainment Director Steve DeJoy. The fried dough contest replaced the apple pie eating contest, which had seen waning participation, DeJoy said.

“They’re crowd-pleasers,” DeJoy said of eating contests, noting a hot dog eating contest would be held Sunday for the second year. “We just have to find that one event … And what is more Franklin County Fair than Hager’s fried dough?”

In fact, the fried dough eating contest was so successful, DeJoy said he already has plans for a division for children ages 13 and under next year.

The fried dough eating contest wasn’t the only new feature of the 169th Franklin County Fair, DeJoy said. In addition to having an all-female round of the demolition derby, new food vendors were added, and the Flying High Frisbee Dogs were replaced by The Marvelous Mutts.

The mutts proved to be a popular attraction as well, with spectators ringing a slice of the infield to watch several dogs, like a Dutch Shepherd named Ivy catch frisbee after frisbee. Ivy weaved through her handler’s legs and jumped off his back to catch each one, twisting in midair as “Go Big or Go Home” played.

Something’s missing...

Elsewhere at the fair, friends Carlie Millar, 16, of Millers Falls, and Kayleigh Curtiss, also 16, of Erving, walked around the rides trying to decide which one to try next. But the two did notice something was missing: the Ferris wheel.

“When you think of a fair, you think of a Ferris wheel,” said Millar, who has been coming to the Franklin County Fair since she was 8 years old.

Michael Nelson, first vice president of the fair, explained the reason for the difference this year was that, when the Ferris wheel arrived, inspectors for the Coleman Brothers’ rides noticed a small crack in one of the Ferris wheel’s main legs.

“Public safety is our priority,” Nelson said. “Out of an abundance of caution, we decided we didn’t want to put the Ferris wheel up … It needed to be evaluated further (and) there was just no time to get it looked at between Wednesday and the fair starting.”

In response, Nelson said, organizers moved around the midway to fill in the extra space. He said that while the Ferris wheel is “obviously a huge staple of every fair,” attendees have been understanding.

“For safety I’m sure it’s great, but it is nice to have a Ferris wheel at the carnival,” agreed Todd LeClair, 53, of Brattleboro, Vt., who attended the fair with his son Trevor LeClair, 16, and Trevor’s friend Gavin Waite, also 16. “(Trevor) doesn’t like many rides, but he likes the Ferris wheel. I would have gone on that one, too.”

“You can see half of Greenfield from that,” Curtiss recalled. “But it’s better than having someone fall off of there.”

Regular fair attendees shouldn’t worry, as Nelson said organizers are looking forward to welcoming the Ferris wheel back next year.

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261 ext. 257