MARIETTA — The Washington County Fair continued on Monday, with the 4-H Flippin’ Breakfast and Show, Dairy Showmanship event and Mr. Puppet, a comedy entertainment show.
Hal Epler, a caterer that specializes in fundraising events, has traveled across Ohio doing pancake breakfasts for almost 20 years with Chris Cakes of Ohio.
This is the fourth year he has visited the Washington County Fair for the 4-H Flippin’ Breakfast and Show. Epler cooks the pancakes in front of everyone and creates a show by flipping the pancakes off his spatula and on to a plate. Fairgoers expressed shock, excitement and joy as they saw flying pancakes land on their plates.
“It’s the look of shock on a little kid’s face when he actually catches it,” he said, when asked what he likes about flipping pancakes. “There’s that certain moment where the kids totally stunned that the pancake is on his plate. Those are the entertaining ones.”
Epler said the pancake breakfast is important to the fair because it instills a sense of community within attendees.
“The biggest reason you have any type of pancake breakfast, whether it’s for raising funds, whether it’s in somebody’s backyard, whether it’s in a school, it’s to create that sense of community,” he said.
Cadence Griffin, 7, and Lynnlee Holland, 7, attended the breakfast and said they enjoyed the show.
When asked if they caught their pancakes, Griffin replied, “I caught the second one,” while Holland, her cousin, said “I caught both of them.”
Jeremy Barth, chairperson for the 4-H Endowment Committee, said the breakfast grows a little more every year as people encounter the fun show.
“Yeah you get to eat breakfast, but I think the interaction with the pancake guy (Epler) makes it a fun experience,” he said. “He does a great job of interacting with the crowd that comes in.”
Barth said the breakfast helps raise money, which goes back into the program to help pay for workshops, project books and scholarships for 4-H members, as well as helping purchase much-needed items for the fair, like an ice machine or new tables.
Barth said he chooses to volunteer at the fair and with 4-H to give back to the community. He has been volunteering with 4-H for 21 years and has previously been on the fair board for 12 years. He said he was in 4-H as a child and now gets to work alongside community members who taught him when he was in the program.
“That’s what 4-H is about, community,” he said. “We’re a community.”
Macie Smith, with the Decatur Buckeyes 4-H group and Warren FFA, received first in her market class for her dairy beef showing. She grew up surrounded by cattle, on a market beef farm and has been showing animals at the fair for nine years. Smith said she enjoys the companionship between her and her animals and was excited to receive a blue ribbon.
“I definitely take it to heart. It shows how much hard work I’ve done throughout the years of showing,” she said. “I actually grew up and had the role model of my sister, Morgan, she’s taught me what I know. It makes me really proud of myself, because I worked hard for this.”
Smith acted as a role model for her cousin, Waylon McCoy, 3, during the Pee-Wee Showmanship event. She helped him lead her heifer around the ring in the Multi-Purpose Building.
Bob Abdou, also known as Mr. Puppet, performed Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the fairgrounds. When asked how he got into puppetry, he explained how adults from the 50s, 60s and 70s grew up with puppets in their lives, due to puppets appearing on television and in theater.
“So I was 34 years old, I decided I wanted to make a switch in my life and I remember having a puppet as a child,” he said. “And so I got a puppet to use on my job as a salesman in my printing business.”
Abdou realized that he was getting more work from his clients, by making them happy and filling them with laughter. Later, he closed his business to go into puppetry full time.
Abdou said his inspiration came from the Uncle Floyd Show, a sketch comedy show featuring Floyd’s right hand, Oogie. He eventually met and had the chance to perform with Uncle Floyd and Oogie during a dinner theater show.
Abdou said his life changed five years ago while performing at the fair. He said he realized that Washington County is a “poor area” and some of the kids here are being raised by their grandparents due to their parents being incarcerated, in rehab, or even deceased.
” So I realized that instead of making these children laugh, which is my ultimate goal, I want them to feel special,” he said. “I realized that I want to turn my spotlight on my audience and make them shine, because the children here need it.”
James Dobbs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fair concludes today. The remaining schedule includes:
* 3 p.m.: Buyers Reception
* 4 p.m.: Midway Opens; Junior Fair Livestock Sale
* 6-8 p.m.: Booth Tear Down
* 7 p.m.: KOI Drag Racing
* 11 p.m.: Midway Closes