CANFIELD - The Canfield Fair has many icons: the rooster, the grandstand and Western Reserve Village, to name a few.
This year, it added a new icon: the Canfield Fair Mobile App.
The fair itself, which opened Wednesday, is 166 years old. The age of one of its iconic sights makes it seem a newborn by comparison.
Marilyn and Jerry Mong of Leetonia sit on a bench in front of the big rock Wednesday at the Canfield Fair and recall how important a part of the fair history the rock has been.
Photo by Dan Pompili
The big rock in front of the grandstand is a glacial boulder. It was estimated to have been left on the fairgrounds 18,000 to 20,000 years ago, according to the plaque mounted to it.
In 1958, Youngstown industrialist and philanthropist William H. Kilcawley, a fair board member and one-time director, found the boulder in what is now a parking area, 1,000 feet from the rock's current location. He had the rock excavated, removed and hauled by tractor-trailer to its current position in front of the grandstand, among the benches.
Since then, it has been the meeting point for an inestimable amount of fair-goers.
While the rock wasn't there in 1947, Marilyn Mong of Leetonia said that spot in front of the grandstand is where her parents met that year for their first date, a blind date.
Mong has been going to fair since she was a child. She sat on a bench directly in front of the rock Wednesday with her husband, Jerry, and recalled that the rock served as a rallying point during her school years.
"You'd always hear it on the loud speaker, something like 'Joanne, meet your friends at the big rock,''' she said. "We all met here, and you'd always have to wear your new school loafers to break them in, and penny loafers, they weren't just loafers but penny loafers."
Marilyn Marinelli of Canfield said she has been going to the fair since she moved to the area 41 years ago, and has taken her children every year. Sitting on one of the benches near the boulder, Marinelli said she, too, remembers the loudspeaker ringing out over then grounds with calls for people to meet their friends and family at the big rock.
"Until the day of cell phones, that's where we always met," she said.
And although the Fair's 2012 theme "Celebrate the Harvest" is a nod to its agricultural beginnings, it has moved forward to address the modern bent of its younger generation.
This year's big feature is the new Canfield Fair Mobile App for iPhones and Androids. Fair Board member Mark Makoski said the new app offers various features, including a schedule of events, locations of restrooms, ATMs and emergency services. It allows fair-goers to post photos and vote for their favorite concessions, rides and exhibits, and it includes a GPS feature to guide the fair-goers through the grounds and back to their car.
"It'll actually draw you a line to get you to your car," Makoski said.
Board member Timm Schreiber the app is intended to cater to younger fair-goers.
"We're just trying to keep ahead of that younger generation," he said. "It's our first attempt, so we're going to keep trying to improve it."
Wednesday, some of that younger generation sat near the big rock investigating the new app. Brett Centofanti, Katrina Boyer and Haley Whitehair, all 17 and from Berlin Center, checked it out and said they were impressed by all the features.
But, Boyer said, they still use their cell phones to call or send each other text messages to meet at the big rock.
"We just say 'where all the benches are' or 'the big rock.' It's pretty much where everyone knows," she said.