September 1, 2014

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Fair board member receives Claire Hill award

WELLINGTON — He wasn’t dragged by cattle to the Lorain County Fair’s grandstand on Thursday, but that’s not to say John Piwinski hasn’t been dragged around by a cow before.  

Piwinski, 51, a longtime Lorain County Fair volunteer and board member, received the fair’s 2007 Claire Hill Award on Thursday. The outstanding service award, sponsored by The Chronicle-Telegram, has been bestowed on a deserving fair worker since 1960 in honor of former fair secretary Claire Hill. 

Piwinski

Fair organizers say Piwinski, a New Russia Township trustee and 2002 Leadership Lorain County graduate, was chosen for his dauntless commitment to the fair over the past 40 years.

As WEOL 930-AM announcer Les Sekely put it when he presented the award — Piwinski’s been part of the fair since he was in diapers. 

Piwinski said the award was a testament not so much to his own commitment to the fair, but the commitment of family, friends and other longtime fair supporters.

“If it wasn’t for everybody who comes out and helps, we wouldn’t be putting this thing on,” said Piwinski, who now sits on the fair’s executive board. He was elected to the fair board in 1995, but he’s been involved in the fair and 4-H since he was knee-high to a pygmy goat.

Piwinski said the fair is ultimately fueled by one major thing — children. Be it the 4-H competition or a toddler gnawing on a caramel apple, Piwinski figures the youngsters are what make the fair go ’round. 

Family members said Piwinski is fiercely devoted to the county fair and approaches his responsibilities with rich humor.

Case in point: Piwinski’s cousin, Lisa Piwinski, 21, said the best “John Piwinski” moment came during the fair three years ago, when he was dragged around by Lisa’s mammoth steer.

“John was standing around talking to everyone, as usual,” Lisa said. “The steer just got a little spooked or something and all of a sudden … it took off. It dragged him all through the saw dust and did spirals.”
Piwinski said he simply forgot to let go of the animal’s tether.

A handful of 4-H youngsters learned a valuable lesson that year: If you hang around long enough, you’re bound to win eventually.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.