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Lewis County Fair spelling bee features “clutch” performers

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LOWVILLE — The annual Lewis County Fair spelling bee featured many clutch performers, including one who correctly spelled the word “clutch.”

Students from the Beaver River, Copenhagen, Lowville and South Lewis central school districts, River Valley Mennonite School and home schoolers participated Friday in four different grade-level competitions.

Lowville Academy’s Linnea E. Haney did not have to spell the word “excited” en route to winning the grades one and two contest. However, that was how she described the experience afterward.

Linnea, who successfully spelled the words “again” and “always” to take the spelling title in the youngest age group of the day, qualified for the fair bee by placing second in her school competition but was able to beat all comers in the countywide event.

“I’m happy for her,” said Linnea’s father, Todd C., admitting that her spelling prowess was passed on genetically by her mother, not him. “I’m proud of her. She did a great job.”

Dawn D. Ludovici, Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services assistant superintendent and the spelling bee master of ceremonies, congratulated all participants, noting the difficulty of performing in such a setting.

“It’s really tricky to be standing up on this stage and seeing that sea of faces,” she said.

In the grades three and four contest, South Lewis student Paige M. Birgenheier took the county title after correctly spelling the word “snapping.”

“I was very nervous,” she admitted, adding she had been practicing at home.

“I’m very proud,” said Paige’s grandmother, Patricia G. Wendt. “Very, very pleased. She did a great job. I think all the kids did a great job.”

Ruth Haldeman from River Valley Mennonite School won the grades five and six contest, while Kristen VanHorn of Beaver River took the title for grades seven and eight.

Cheryl R. Steckly, elementary principal at Lowville Academy and Central School, served as pronouncer for the spelling bee. She gave each contestant a practice word to help get them more comfortable before starting.

The spelling bee, held on the second Children’s Day of this year’s fair, was sponsored by the Watertown Daily Times and Journal & Republican, the Lewis County Agricultural Society, the Lewis County Democratic Party and Jefferson-Lewis BOCES.

The top five spellers in each age group received books and cash prizes ranging from $10 to $60. All participants also received certificates and ribbons.

Today is family day at the Lewis County Fair.

Activities begin at 9 a.m. with an open horse show and a dog show at 10 a.m.

The Coleman Bros. midway opens at noon, with $18 wristbands to be sold from noon to 4 p.m. that will allow purchasers to ride until 6 p.m.

The 2012 fair will conclude with the annual demolition derby, beginning at 6 p.m.

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