A new fair lady: Laura Sensenig long active in annual Denver event

By on September 14, 2016
Newly crowned Miss Denver Fair, Laura Sensenig (center), is surrounded by her court; (left) first runner up Alissa Martin and (right) second runner up Julie Sensenig. Pictured in the back row(from left) are Kylee Kimbel, Amanda Horning, and Olivia Voler. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Newly crowned Miss Denver Fair, Laura Sensenig (center), is surrounded by her court; (left) first runner up Alissa Martin and (right) second runner up Julie Sensenig. Pictured in the back row(from left) are Kylee Kimbel, Amanda Horning, and Olivia Voler. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Seventeen-year-old Laura Sensenig’s memories of the Denver Fair go all the way back to her elementary days, when she would bring home pumpkin seeds to plant at the end of the school year in the hope of growing a winner for the fair.

As a competitor in the 2016 Miss Denver Fair contest, Sensenig had been asked to compose a speech about her memories of the fair.

While she mentioned her sewing projects and participating in the Jello-eating contest, Sensenig got to the heart of the matter by telling the judges: “The point is, we have these memories and our lives are better for them because of the fair.”

Sensenig, a daughter of Corey and Elaine Sensenig of Schoeneck, and a senior at Cocalico Area High School, won the coveted crown of Miss Denver Fair during the first night of activities during the 35th Annual Denver Fair.

The fair will run through Saturday, Sept. 17, at Denver Memorial Park.

A member of the National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society, Sensenig will be attending the Pennsylvania Health College out of Lancaster General Hospital and plans to become a Registered Nurse.

As she was crowned by Olivia Martin, last year’s Miss Denver Fair, Sensenig said she was “really excited” to have been named queen of the fair.

“I’ve been coming here ever since I was very little and we volunteer here,” Sensenig said. “I really enjoy working with all the volunteers and everybody is so friendly. I also like watching my cousins show their steers and pigs.”

Over the years, Sensenig has entered competitions with baked goods, crafts, and sewing projects and this year, won “Best of Show” with a white denim jacket she created.

As the winner, Sensenig was awarded a scholarship toward her college tuition.

Alyssa Martin, 17, a daughter of Torrey and Stephanie Martin of Schoeneck, earned first runner-up status and received a sash and bouquet of flowers.

A few of Martin’s favorite fair memories included winning a big stuffed monkey when she was just six years old, winning “fair fish” with ping pong balls, and eating fried Oreos.

Martin has entered everything from art work to huge pumpkins over the years and said it was always exciting to win ribbons.

Julia Sensenig, 17, a daughter of Ed and Michele Sensenig of Schoeneck, won second-runner up. The fair holds plenty of good memories for her, she said, from riding the rides to petting the animals.

Also competing were Amanda Horning, Kylee Kimbel, and Olivia Voler, all 17 and all seniors at Cocalico Area High School.

Nevin McQuate, a fair director, acted as emcee for the pageant.

The fair had its beginnings on the outfield of the park’s ball diamond 35 years ago, McQuate said.

While the Denver Fair has grown immensely through the years, they are in need of volunteers to keep it successful, McQuate told the crowd.

The folks who started the fair are senior citizens now, he added.

“We really need new people, new ideas, and new things to do,” McQuate said.

Last year’s fair queen, Martin, said she enjoyed the experience and would be a bit sad to give up her crown.

“This is probably the top experience I’ll remember from my high school years,” Martin said. “For me, the Denver Fair is special because it’s in your home town and you know everyone here; it almost becomes another home. It’s just very comfortable.”

Tuesday night was also the traditional “Super Candy Scramble,” sponsored by the Reinholds VFW and the Denver Fair Committee.

About 75 children participated in this year’s scramble, which is open to kids up to the age of seven, said Sheri Lehman, committee chairman.

The rules were easy enough — grab as much candy as you can and put it in a bag.

Three women scattered handfuls of candy into a roped-off area as though they were throwing feed for chickens.

The youngest group seemed a little confused with the concept of scooping free candy out of the grass but the older kids swooped down on the stuff, vacuuming the lawn with an efficiency that hasn’t been seen since Grant took Richmond.

Attendance for the first night was booming, with comfortable temperatures helping to draw in the crowds.

With the air scented like cotton candy, many visitors said it was the fair food that keeps them coming back.

From beef jerky in a jar to cheeseburgers, pizza, chocolate-covered bananas, caramel apples, baked potatoes and walking tacos, the Denver Fair has everybody’s favorites.

Barry Heuyard and Jalinn Klopp of Akron brought son, Brody, 8, to the fair and said they were looking forward to sampling a little of everything.

“We like the food and the games, but probably food the most,” Klopp said. “It’s different every time.”

“I am here for all the food,” Heuyard said. “I like all of it.”

Brody was more interested in the petting zoo, which featured a zebra, goats, sheep, and llama.

“Everything is just so cute,” Brody said.

While the brightly lit, fast rides and games of chance were fun, it was the petting zoo that seemed to be attracting the most people.

Biggest draw — and attention-stealer — at the petting zoo was a baby kangaroo, or joey, sitting in a canvas pouch with only his paws and head visible. Visitors couldn’t resist coming in close to pet the little guy, and some were rewarded with a little kangaroo “smooch.”

“Oh, you are so adorable,” Andrea DeHart of Denver told the joey as she gently touched his gray furry face.

DeHart brought her two-year-old grandson, Jaxon, to the fair.

“My family has been coming to this fair every year for many years,” DeHart said. “It’s close, it’s friendly, and we like to see the animals. The zebra was a big surprise!”

Pony rides and camel rides are also available for the kids.

The heart of any country fair is the exhibit tent, filled with proof of the past summer’s bounty and Denver’s didn’t disappoint. Red-skinned potatoes vied with striped watermelons and shiny green peppers for the attention of visitors. But it was a huge, 123-pound orange pumpkin that took “Best of Show.”

Examining the exhibits were Jennifer and Shannon Sahm of Denver.

“We like to do the whole fair experience,” said Jennifer Sahm. “We definitely come for the food and when our children were young, we’d bring them for the rides. Now we like to look at the exhibits.”

In past years, Shannon grew pumpkins for competition.

“My best friend used to win every year and I’d try to compete with him,” he said. “I did get second with a long-necked pumpkin one year. Now, we come here to see people we haven’t seen in a while, too.”

While many youngsters took to the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Himalaya, Amy Seifarth’s sons, Milo, 8, and Ezra, 6, of Ephrata, were having a good time on the playground equipment at the park.

Dad Aaron Smee, a Cub Scout leader, was helping his troops at the fair.

“It’s quiet here, mellow,” said Seifarth, standing under tall sycamores. “The weather is great tonight and it’s nice to have the kids move around outside. We’ll look at the animals, the exhibits, and the tractors, and then we’ll head for home.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *