Sister crowns new queen of Trumbull Fair

CORTLAND – The weather couldn’t seem to make up its mind on the first day of the Trumbull County Fair’s 168th year on Tuesday.

The participants of the Miss Trumbull County Fair Pageant huddled on the Historical Stage just minutes after the new queen was announced while wind and sheets of rain pummelled the shelter.

“Here at the Trumbull County Fair, you have to be ready for everything,” quipped pageant coordinator Jenna DePizzo as the wind blew over the podium while judges tallied up the points.

Minutes later, even as she stood in a puddle with the bottom of her gown soaking up rainwater, the new queen said her spirits would not be dampened.

“No, I’m so happy,” she said with a bright smile that would soon be followed by some afternoon sun, which stuck around for most of the rest of the day. “It’s just the fair; it happens every year.”

Deneen Penn, 16, of Cortland, followed in her sister’s footsteps as she received the title of Miss Trumbull County Fair 2014. Her sister, LeAnn Penn, 18, was Miss Trumbull County Fair 2013. The two shared a tight hug shortly after Deneen Penn, who attends Maplewood High School, was named the leading lady.

“I’m just so proud to follow in my sister’s footsteps,” Deneen Penn said.

LeAnn Penn said her sister is deserving of this year’s crown not only because she is beautiful on the outside, but also because she is kind-hearted and devoted to the community.

“She has an absolutely amazing heart,” she said, adding that being able to pass the crown on to her younger sister was “absolutely amazing.”

The Penns are the daughters of Jeff and Diane Penn of Cortland.

Deneen Penn will spend her year promoting the fair and acting as a representative of the Trumbull County Agricultural Society. She also will receive a $1,000 savings bond sponsored by Jim Brown Seeds and Tom Sawyer Farm.

There were 12 contestants in all. First runner-up was Ashley Wolanzyk of Cortland, and second runner-up was Erika Zuga of Farmdale.

On Thursday, 19 girls and boys will take their turn on the stage during the Little King and Queen Trumbull County Fair Pageant, starting at 6 p.m. at the Historical Stage.

In addition to the pageant, fairgoers will have more of their favorite endeavors, including tractor and truck pulls, bull riders, stock cars, carnival games and farm animals.

Today, auto racing begins starting with 5:30 p.m. hot laps today and Thursday. Today will feature the RUSH Dirt Late Model Touring Series and e-mods and Thursday the BRP Modifies Series and stock cars.

The Junior Fair Board will hold numerous Junior Fair competitions today and Thursday, as well, including the saddle horse senior ride and Cloverbud Cornhole.

Fair President Thomas Sawyer, who has been involved with the county event for more than 35 years, said the fair is one of the most reasonable ones around because the $8 admission includes everything, including rides.

“I don’t know where you can do that any more,” he said during Tuesday’s opening ceremony, which was attended by numerous area officials, including Trumbull County Commissioners Frank Fuda and Dan Polivka.

A moment of silence was held for late Commissioner Paul E. Heltzel, who passed away last week at his home in Howland following a battle with colon cancer, at the age of 69.

Polivka and Fuda said a few words, with Fuda hoping for good weather and for everyone to have some good, family fun.

Special guest Dan Mastropietro of Mastropietro Winery was also invited to speak, and he talked of the beneficial impact of wineries on state taxes. He said there is a family-owned winery within a 35-minute driving distance of every home in Ohio and encouraged everyone to take time to visit one.

“Please, support your local industry and your local farmers markets that grow the grapes for us,” he said.

The fair is open through Sunday. The final day – “Fun Day” – will feature a demolition derby at 5 p.m. and a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.