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She’s been a county fair visitor for over 80 years

FPS staff report

Helen RoachHelen Roach hasn’t missed a Carroll County Fair in over 80 years!

Roach, 87, was three months old when her parents took her to the fair in September 1925.  She has attended every year since.

Raised on a 240+ acre farm between Dellroy and Leavittsville, Roach said her dad would tell the family they had to have the corn shocked and the wheat in before they could go to the fair.  Roach asked her mother if she carried her around the fairgrounds and her mother said, “No, we left you in the car.” 

The family would prepare chicken, potato salad, and cake and trek to the fair for two days.  They would leave around four each afternoon to go home and take care of the farm animals. 

Roach remembers standing in the midway and watching the grandstand burn and the new grandstand being built.  Growing up, she was a typical teenager who walked around the fair with her friends and always wanted to stay “a little longer.”

Eventually the fair was moved from the end of September to the third Tuesday in July.  Roach thinks part of the reason for the change was because it snowed during the fair.

Roach married her husband, Bill, and they attended the fair together.  Each year she worked at the main gate and Bill worked at the barn gate. 

“One year, I was working the gate and this lady came up and began arguing with me over the price,” said Roach.  “I told her I knew the cost to get into the fair and she didn’t believe me.  We had to go to the office and they told her the same price as I did.  I chuckled, ‘I was right.’”

Roach remembers the first year she took her daughter, Ruby (Stackhouse) to the fair. 

“She was five months old and I wanted to take her for a ride on the merry-go-round,” explained Roach.  “When the horse began to go up and down, I couldn’t hold onto her and asked the woman beside me, whose child was older, if she would hold my baby.  So we swapped children for the ride.”

Helen and Bill helped set up the grange booth in the exhibition hall for many years.    The exhibition hall is one of the things she looks forward to seeing each year.   She remembers her dad liked to watch the horse pulls, but Bill liked a different type of horsepower.  He took the family to watch the demolition derby on Saturday night.

After Bill passed away, Helen and Ruby continued to go to the derby each year during the fair.

In recent years, one of Roach’s favorite entertainers was Mike Albert impersonating Elvis Presley.  “I sat in the front row at his show and he came into the crowd,” said Roach.  “He asked me a question and I was so nervous I could hardly answer.”

Roach has seen many changes over the years.  She feels there are more rides at the fair now than when she was young.  She also enjoys the show tent. 

Last year, Helen and Ruby went to the fair.  Due to the heat, Helen wasn’t able to stay too long but she did get her fair food fix. “ A tall lemonade and I always liked the apple dumplings, too,” she said. 

“I have always enjoyed the fair and had a great time each year,” Roach said.  “I plan on going in 2013 and for as long as I can.”

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