John and Beverly Farrar were married in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 10, 1964, by a justice of the peace.
For the last half century, the couple spent their anniversaries nearly 2,000 miles northeast at the Washington County Fair.
The West Middletown couple didn’t want any frills for their 50th wedding anniversary.
“We’re just here,” said Beverly, 70, raising her hands and gesturing to the show arena, where her 3-year-old great granddaughter, LeLana Moore, was about to display her market lamb.
After raising three generations of fairgoers, the couple is content with just watching.
John, 75, boasts almost perfect attendance at the fair since age 10, with exception the year he met Beverly.
The Vietnam veteran was stationed in El Paso with Beverly’s brother when he found his wife-to-be.
“You missed one (other) year of the fair,” Beverly said, turning to her husband with a smile. “That year you had open-heart surgery.”
John shook his head.
Despite the surgery, John said he came to the fairgrounds that year.
The fair transformed since John, Beverly and their three daughters first dined there as a family. Among the new barns and event expansions, Beverly noted the most significant change occurred in the show arena.
“The show arena used to be just a field with a fence around it,” Beverly said, glancing about at the recently renovated arena, which is now enclosed on all sides, with the exception of the grandstands.
John paused, attempting to trace back to his earliest memory of the fair.
“When I first showed here, there was a tent,” John said. “And we’d show in that tent, then we’d sleep in there at night and wake up in the morning with fly specks all over.”
Although John doesn’t spend the night anymore, he and his family attend as much of the fair week as possible.
John and Beverly wouldn’t dare miss a show with their grandchildren, including their decorated grandson, Chasten McConn.
The rising fourth-grader in Avella Area School District delighted his family, collecting 16 ribbons at the fair so far.
Looking back on his own memories at the fairgrounds, Chasten, 9, recalls walking his Great Pyrenees in the fair’s pet show when he was 3.
“My dad gave (the dog) a bath and blow drying. He looked like this little fur ball,” Chasten said, giggling at the thought. “And three seconds in, I automatically won the dog division.”
John added when the judges asked his grandson about the dog’s name, Chasten answered, “Dog.”
“And that’s been his name (ever since),” John said.
Beverly recounted her children’s accomplishments at the fair. Throughout several decades the couple watched their youngest daughter, Jonie Farrar-Bartlett, as she was crowned the 1991 fair queen and applauded as their eldest daughter, Audra Brigich, and middle daughter, Joey McConn, placed at livestock shows.
Beverly will never forget their early years as parents, watching their children’s antics at the fair.
“We’re here late at night clipping and cleaning,” Beverly recalled. “Then we go home and I told Jonie to get washed up, and I walked into the bathroom – here she’s got her little body in the sink.”
She also chuckled at the image of Joey showing her market hogs in a dress.
Although some memories took a moment to summon, Beverly was quick to recall this year’s highlight.
“My great-granddaughter just showed in the hog show,” Beverly said. “She’s a great little girl.”