South Charleston: Family a fixture at county fair

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick

The Waddle family has been active in the Clark County Fair for generations: (front row, from left) Tom Waddle, Rita Waddle, Esther W. Pyles, Nancy Waddle, Steve Waddle; (second row) Tricia Yoder holding Austin, 3, Jaye Lin Waddle, Jennifer Harral holding Mitchell, 5 months, Debbie Corbitt holding Kylie, 2, Melanie Waddle holding Sarah, 1; (back row) Mark Waddle, Jason Harral, Sean Corbitt and Brian Waddle. Dwayne Yoder is not pictured.

One would be hard-pressed to find a part of the Clark County Fair that doesn’t involve a Waddle.

The family, which lives in and around South Charleston, has been an integral part of the 4-H and fair scene for several generations.

“We’ve been involved because we enjoy it, we like to do things as a family, and we like to be around other people,” said Steve Waddle, who lives with his wife, Nancy, on a farm on Old Springfield Road that has been in Nancy’s family for over 100 years. With the exception of one daughter who lives in Arizona, the rest of the Waddles live within four miles of the farm.

Steve grew up as a 4-Her and FFA member, showing market hogs and steers and taking electricity and small engine projects. Later in life, he taught vocational agriculture and led the FFA chapter at Northeastern High School for seven years. In conjunction with the Clark County Fair, he has been a member of the livestock sales and 4-H committees.

Nancy is no stranger to the fair and 4-H. She, Steve and their son, Brian, are among the advisors of the Crafty Critters 4-H Club, which has over 65 members.

A big part of the Waddles’ involvement comes through the Clark County Pork Producers Council, which runs the porkchop booth at the fair. Over the course of fair week, the group sells 15,000 chops, Steve said. The proceeds go back into improvements at the fairgrounds.

Additional funds are raised through the Pork Council Women’s pie auction, which Steve’s mother, Esther Pyles, helps to organize. Esther is an award-winning baker in her own right, as is Steve’s sister-in-law, Rita Waddle. In fact, Rita has won the “Best Cookie of Clark County” contest and organized the fair’s first 4-H baking contest last year.

All four of Steve and Nancy’s children grew up at the fair. As soon as they could walk, they were showing hogs, and their attachment to the fair has expanded from there.

“Through 4-H, I learned responsibility, met a lot of new friends, and learned how to finish a project,” said Brian, one of the Waddles’ sons. “I want to give the youth coming up the experience I had.”

In addition to advising the Crafty Critters 4-H Club, Brian is serving his second year on the Clark County Fair Board, helps his parents in the Pork Producers booth, and is chairman of the fair board’s swine and dog committees. He sets aside vacation time to camp out at the fair, rising at 6 a.m. and hitting the sack at midnight every day.

“I look forward to the fair from the get-go,” he said.

The Waddles’ other son, Mark, has had a lifelong involvement with the fair, as well. He showed hogs and steers as a youngster, was on Junior Fairboard and served as a camp counselor. He now volunteers with the swine committee, working the weigh-ins and shows and helping out with the Pork Producers. Together, Mark and Brian raise show pigs for 4-H projects.

The Waddles’ daughters, Debbie Corbitt and Jennifer Harral, also spent their fair share of time in the show ring and at the judge’s table as youths. In their 4-H careers, both held the title of pork queen and Clark County Fair queen. Debbie was the state fair queen one year and Jennifer, who served as Junior Fair Board president, was second runner-up. Both were camp counselors.

These days, Debbie helps to run the queens contest and sells porkchops at the fair. Living in Arizona, Jennifer is out of the year-round loop but comes home to visit during fair week.

Steve’s brother, Tom, and his family, are tightly woven into the fabric of fair, as well. He and his wife, Rita, along with their daughters Tricia Yoder and Jaye Lin Waddle, serve as advisors for the Little Rascals 4-H Club. Tom is a former 4-H member and is entering his seventh year as a member of the Senior Fair Board.

In their teens, Tricia was named pork queen and Jaye Lin was dairy princess. Both were camp counselors. Additionally, for the past six years, Jaye Lin has worked as an administrative assistant for the entertainment department at the state fair. She also is a Junior Fair Board advisor.

Everyone who has married into the Waddle family comes with fair experience, from 4-H to FFA to the calf scramble. Brian’s wife, Melanie, even served as Madison County’s 4-H Extension agent at one time.

“We’re a real close family,” Brian said. “And we love the fair.”

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