Bull highlights 155th Fair
BY ROBERT L. BAKER
The 155th Harford Fair had some picture-perfect weather lending to one of the best crowds in the last 3-5 years, but Fair Director Cindy Reynolds acknowledged would be remembered as the one that had an errant bull Friday night.
State police at Gibson confirmed Monday that 14 people had been injured by one of the bulls that earlier in the evening had been a part of the Pro Championship Rodeo which was a sellout.
Police deemed the release of the animal just a little before11 p.m.accidental and no criminal charges would be forthcoming.
Nine people suffering from moderate to minor injuries were transported by ambulance and one by helicopter to local hospitals, after the bull got loose at the fairgrounds onHarford RoadinSusquehannaCountywhile being loaded onto a trailer.
Kaylaa Marino, a student in Susquehanna Community School District, said she saw the release unfold as four bulls being loaded smashed one of the chutes open and took off.
Three were quickly corralled in the makeshift horse arena, but one made its way to the fairgrounds where people were still mulling around as vendors prepared to close for the evening.
Not far from the horse gate, Kayla’s mom, Teresa Marino, was working a Blue Ridge/Susquehanna food stand that specializes in potato pancakes when she saw the animal maybe 8-10 feet away from her, charging full speed ahead.
She said at that point a couple of vehicles nearby had attempted to corner the animal. It then returned to her vendor space, and she was able to close some double doors in the knick of time, judging by the hoof prints left behind.
On Saturday, the food stand had a sign out front of it that said “Even the bulls keep coming back.”
“That was a fact,” she said Monday, “although we certainly didn’t want to make light of people’s injuries.”
Was she scared?
“You bet, we all were. We didn’t know what to think,” she said.
Marino, who is director of performing arts at Susquehanna Community High School about 20 miles from Harford, said she could not have choreographed a more memorable fair experience.
The Marinos, however, were just the first of quite a few to see the bull late Friday night, which eventually moseyed its way to the Fair’s Midway.
Sirita Farnelli of Dimock said she was not paying attention to the loud speaker announcement which her mom said was getting louder and louder.
“We have a scary situation. There is a bull loose on the fairground,” a voice announced over the fair’s intercom. “Everyone please exit the fairground.”
Farnelli looked up and just happened to see the bull strolling down the midway by itself.
“At first I thought it was a closing parade of some sort,” Farnelli said Sunday, “but then I got scared.”
She eventually hid behind some fencing and was okay, but she saw the animal charge at a woman whom she guessed was maybe 18 or 19, “and it just tossed her in the air.”
Isaiah Ofalt, who had been at the rodeo earlier in the evening watching his mom in the barrel races, decided after the rodeo to hang out with his cousins on the Midway.
He said without warning the bull just appeared about 10 feet away, “and then ran right by me maybe four or five feet away.”
“I looked up at it and froze,” he said, acknowledging that a lot of people were jumping over the fence or trying to get out of its way.
He posted a couple of videos of the bull on his FaceBook page on the internet.
Eventually, the animal was corralled in a furniture vendor area from whence it was finally loaded up and taken away.
Reynolds said that the ride operators, Houghton Enterprises, did an excellent job trying to get people out of harm’s way moving them up to the space where the bumper cars were and anywhere else they could be safe.
However, not everyone was lucky enough to get out of the way.
Doris Henke was one of the individuals hospitalized, knocked from her motorized wheelchair by the charging bull, her son Jason Henke said Monday night.
“She was blindsided,” he said.
Mrs. Henke, a paraplegic who was sideswiped and leapt over by the animal, suffered bumps and bruises all over her body, and received 12 stitches on her head, according to her son.
State police said some of the people were injured from direct contact with the bull, while others sustained injuries while attempting to flee from it. Four individuals not treated byEMSpersonnel later called Harford fair officials to report injuries sustained as a result of the incident, police said.
Harford Fair officials are in the process of gathering additional information, Reynolds said.
As far as the rest of the 155th Harford Fair, Reynolds said it was a very satisfying week.
She noted that in the exhibit areas this year, the Harford Fair gave out $30,000 in premiums, and she was pleased to note that around 1,500 exhibitors displayed about 7,000 items, which was “great.”
She said that some crafts were down a little, but fine arts and photography were way up as was jewelry, stained glass, woodworking and scrapbooking.
Reynolds noted that the rodeo and demolition derby were sellout events, and the illusionist at the Shade Pavilion each day was “very, very popular with fairgoers.”
She said that the public also had quite an interest in the crafting demonstrations in the log cabin, and a number of people shared with her that they were impressed with the exhibit area that the New Milford campus of Lackawanna College had set up.
More than just sharing information about the school’s gas drilling technology program, people were pleased to see lots of informational displays about how the Marcellus gas drilling process works and how pipelines are laid, Reynolds said.
She also noted that the baked goods auction brought in some $1700 for scholarships, and sales of a stained glass piece and some of the woodcraving efforts added even more funds to the coffers.
Reynolds noted that a “Zero-Turn Challenge” lawn mower event was immensely popular and the fair would likely continue that in the future.
As for food vendors, Reynolds siad she heard few complaints, and noted that starting around 6 p.m. Saturday, some vendors were starting to run out of food, which meant that most must have had a very good week indeed.
She thanked the community for its participation and she looks forward to seeing everybody for the 156th edition next year.
Times-Shamrock writer Katie Sullivan also contributed to this report.