Ellis makes fair a 'Family Tradition'
By RANDY GONZALES
ELLIS -- The rocket launch was scrubbed.
But Jacob Schmeidler continues to pick up ribbons anyway.
Schmeidler entered his rocket "Alien Invader" in Thursday night's rocketry exhibit at the 80th Ellis Junior Free Fair. The fire danger in the area prevented the rockets from launching into the clear, blue sky.
"I really like launching them, so I'm not too happy about it," said Schmeidler, 11, Hays.
Perhaps his mood will pick up today when he learns he was selected reserve grand champion.
The judging continued late into the night Thursday. There was just one division in rocketry, with 21 entries, and the age limit 17.
Schmeidler was named grand champion in his age division with his rocket at the Ellis County Fair earlier this month, the fourth straight year he has won in his category.
This is the second year Schmeidler has had a rocket at the Ellis Junior Free Fair; last year, he won a ribbon, too.
Schmeidler just likes building things; he has built model cars, but hasn't taken them to the fair.
It takes Schmeidler about two weeks to build a rocket. The thrill is part building and part launching.
"They're really fun to launch," he said. "I like to glue the fins on. They're balsa wood, so you have to glue them on. And you got to spray paint them."
Despite no rocket launch, Thursday night was filled with games for the kids. As are the exhibits.
"We've got entrants as young as 1," said Diane Kuhn, a fair volunteer whose husband, Pat, is on the fair board. "They do a coloring page and scribble a little and get a ribbon.
"That to us is what it's all about."
If kids weren't trying to catch chickens, they were racing frogs and turtles. Throw in a balloon toss, gunny sack races, three-legged races and even more games, and it was fun for one and all.
That's the whole idea, said Kuhn, who with her husband has been involved with the fair for approximately 25 years.
This year's theme is "A Family Tradition."
"I think that sums it up," she said.
Events continue at the Ellis fair today and Saturday.