Area senior citizens were treated to a day of unique entertainment and lunch Thursday during the annual Senior Citizens’ Day event at the Wyandot County Fair.
Hundreds of people packed the Masters’ Building to see performances by magician Jason Alan, of Munroe Falls; Maidens IV, of Loudonville; and an impromptu speech by Abraham Lincoln re-enactor John Cooper, of Baltimore.
Wyandot County Council on Aging Director Ryan Payton welcomed the crowd before a presentation of Wyandot County’s senior citizen of the year, Jackie Graeser. Wyandot County Commissioners Bill Clinger, Ron Metzger and Steve Seitz thanked Graeser for her service to the community, followed by accolades from her neighbor, Mayor Scott Washburn, and state Rep. Jeff McClain, of Upper Sandusky.
Alan’s show involved a variety of helpers of all ages from the audience, including Sarah Scott, Beverly Spiegel, Cassie Shuck, Mary Shuck, Colleen Halm, Washburn and Payton.
The show was met with many laughs and cheers from attendees, who gave Alan a standing ovation after his show — just as he predicted, as Payton read in a note Alan wrote before the show and placed in a closed container near the stage.
Before the show, Payton welcomed Alan, who was the 2012 Cleveland Top Talent contest winner. He has toured the world with his magic show for 16 years. Alan said he drove almost 10 hours from the Upper Peninsula in Michigan to entertain the crowd Thursday.
Payton thanked the day’s sponsors, including First National Bank of Sycamore, Hospice of Wyandot County, Wyandot County Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Fairhaven Community and Discount Drug Mart.
Volunteers distributed lunches to attendees, followed by the fast-paced performance of Maidens IV, a Celtic folk rock band. The four-person band is made up of sisters Havilah Justice, Heather (Justice) Mantel, Abigail Justice and Tabitha (Justice) Rall, according to the group’s website.
Cooper followed the show with a historical account of Lincoln’s life before walking around the fairgrounds to greet fairgoers. The event in the Masters’ Building ended with door prizes.
“I would wear gray, navy blue and even purple (suits),” Cooper told one group. “All the photos were in black and white though, so if I wore a purple suit, people would say, ‘You can’t be Lincoln.’”
As Cooper made his way around the north side of the fairgrounds, he met several people who saluted him. One was Rollie Wilson, of Galion, who said he is an Air Force veteran.
“I was born Feb. 12, 1809,” Cooper shot back when asked his birthday. “… If you notice, nobody smiles in pictures. People said I must have always been sad. But if you look at anyone, they aren’t smiling. We had to sit still for 60 to 90 seconds. You can’t smile without twitching, but you can clamp your lips together. … Flash powder was after my time. That’s why there are no pictures of battle scenes — just the aftermath.”
Cooper told a group in another area how he “never stopped learning” his entire life.
“When I became president, I had the Library of Congress. I would order books all the time on military history and strategy,” Cooper said. “I took office in the middle of a very difficult war. I had little background (in the armed forces) and I had to know when to replace generals (and) when to promote generals and discuss battle strategy. The first two years, I made a lot of mistakes. In 1863, I was better able to advise my generals.
“I continued to read and educate myself,” Cooper added.
Lincoln, who grew up in the southern Indian frontier, attended less than a full year of school in his lifetime, Cooper said.
“We had traveling teachers for no more than three weeks at a time,” he said. “All kids from age 7 to 14 would go to a central location. In 10 squares miles, we only had 12 to 15 children. We would be taught the basics — reading, writing and arithmetic. … I never went to high school, college or law school, yet I became a lawyer, a businessman and president of the United States.”
By ALISSA PAOLELLA