Jo Ellen Melling and brother Jeff Hittle made up Country Harmony at the Great Darke County Fair on Tuesday afternoon of the county fair, dedicating the event to their sister, Jennifer Peck, who had also been a member of Country Harmony with Jo Ellen. After a solo by JoEllen and a duet by her and Jeff, the program was turned over to Jeff.. (Linda Moody photo).

Life’s Reflections: County fair keeps memories alive

Life is going to be getting back to normal now that The Great Darke County Fair has once again come and gone. I hope it was a memorable one for all.

Even though I had some trouble walking the grounds the 2 1/2 days I attended, I enjoyed it as always but wish I could have been more productive. I submitted quite a few things to Darke County Now but perhaps not as much as when I was writing full-time, and I apologize for that. But, then I have to remember, I am semi-retired.

Hopefully, next year will be much better.

I don’t know if it is the many terrains you have to walk on out there or if it is just something I have going on with my body that is causing all of this pain.

Other people I’ve talked to complained about the walking as well. So who knows.

I forced myself to get to my assignments so I could get out there what our county fair is all about. But, when we were ready to leave the grounds, we hailed down taxis to get us to our destination. And, that only happened twice.

Like always, I ran into many friends and made others while there.

I thought it was great that a couple of those who are not with us anymore were remembered in some way or another during the festival. The two I am speaking of are Jennifer Peck, who died April 20 at the age of 50, and vendor Kevin Wampler, who died July 20 at the age of 64.

I am sure there were others remembered at the fairgrounds this year but I am unaware of who they may be.

When Country Harmony was scheduled to sing at the gazebo Tuesday afternoon, missing was their singer and sibling, Jennifer. She has sung with Jo Ellen Melling and her brother, Jeff Hittle, for a number of years.

Her remaining siblings decided to let the audience know about the family dynamics before their program got underway.

“We lost our sister in April and missing her,” said Melling. “We miss Jenny very much. She was always seen around the fairgrounds.”

JoEllen then sang, “Jealous of the Angels,” which brought tears to the eyes of some members of their audience, including the trio’s own mother, Marilyn Hittle, who was emotionally affected and could be seen drying her eyes with a tissue. JoEllen and Jeff then sang the song “How Great Thou Art,” before the remainder of the program was turned over to Jeff, who moved to Forest, Ohio, two years ago.

The other dedication was, like I said before, in honor of Kevin Wampler, who brought his Italian sausage stand to the fair for many years. The stand was there this year even though he wasn’t and it sat in the same spot at the southern end of the fairgrounds on the last midway to the west near the race horse barns.

I didn’t get down that far this year because of my aching legs and feet, but I was told about it and shown photos of it. From what I was told, the closed stand sat there with a sit-down dining area beside it. Also featured were writings about Kevin on display.

Kevin was a good person and fellow Ansonian and deserved this honor. It sounds like he was also appreciated for his business here and at other fairs.

If I left anybody else out who passed away since last year, I apologize but I am grateful these two were honored.

I’m sure their spirits were among us.

So, what do we do now? School is starting up and winter is just around the corner. Ugh. Those are usually the only things that make me want the fair to be over with.

However, I will never forget, if I can help it, the Great Darke County Fair and will continue to always recommend visiting it to outsiders to come and check out and see what it’s like.

Besides, my three siblings and I wouldn’t be here, for this is where our parents, the late Lee Jr. and Bea (Riffell) Moody, met. After Dad spent some time in the Army, they were married on Sept. 5, 1946; thus, they would be celebrating their 76th wedding anniversary next Monday.

They continued to be fairgoers as long as they could health-wise. Dad passed in July 2016, and Mom in September 2019.

Thanks for the memories!

Jamie and I extend our condolences to the families and friends of Sharon Varvel Adams, Bob Williams, James  F. Delk, Corey Fleming and Carrol Thompson.
Please pray for these people: D’Arleen Waymire, Randy Heck, Joan Keen, Carol Hemmerich, Sharon Hummel, Dave Niley, Bob Drees, Harvey Hinshaw, Larry P. Fitzwater, Jim Thomas, Neal Gray, Michael Mowery, Debbie Mayse, Kenny Edwards, Judie Hathaway, Ralph Byrd, Norma Byrd, Della Burch, Ned and Brenda Wallace, Connie Buemi Hodson, Jim Kammer, Jim Marker, Randy Garrison, Steve Waymire, Warren Menchhofer, Kenton Turner, Gary Knick, Karen Hecht, Barbara Alexander, Randy Garrison, Jannie Barrow, Kathy Gragorace, Danny Foster, Dave Niley, Noella Combs, Clay Sheffer, Becky Everhart, Sharon Miller, Marie Rieman, Mary Bryant Arnett, Becky Oliver, Ronnie Young, Albert Duncan, Jayden Martin, Jeff Rider, Stefani Priest, Steve Neff, James Enicks, Joann Freeman, Cathy Collins Peters, Donna Bixler, Vanna Hannam, Brenda Wallace, Linda Subler, Michelle Young, Roger McEowen, Jerri Barber, Sally Burnett Ganger, Rick Alexander, Gloria Hodge, Jeff Baltes, Cory Meadows, Denver Harter, Judy Hoffman and daughter Shelly, Cathy Melling, Scott Clark, and all of those who are suffering from other life-altering illnesses.
Happy birthday:
Aug. 30 to Debbie Oliver, Morgan Heitkamp, Dale Lyme, Vickie Doyle, Brittany Green, twins Tracy and Tory Jones, Derek Yount, Holly Shuttleworth, Randy Gump and Cherie Roeth.
Aug. 31 to Deb Rose, Scott Peters and T.J. Phillips.
Sept. 1 to Adam Hinshaw, Jansen Newbauer, Beth Campbell, Katie Grow, Kim Miller, Greg Goodwin and Harlee Cross.
Sept. 2 to Marlene Riffell, Chantell Sebring, Tina Scarberry, Katie Davis-DeLand, Bonita Stewart and Jamie Cook.
Sept. 3 to Sharon Staver Lyme, Susie riegle, Marie Keaser, Joanne Deeter, Kay Curry, Chad Denniston and  Georgette Thornhill.
Sept. 4 to Karen Holsapple, Dylan Hathaway, Jason Bowers, Joe Widener and Chris Lennon.
Sept. 5 to Jill Walters Riegle, Steph Helmke, Judy Cox and Traci Treon.
Happy anniversary to: Ron and Patty Thwaits on Aug. 31; and Paul ane Rhonda Gigandet and Maurice and Ruth Herron, all on Sept. 5.

Think about it: “It is never any good dwelling on goodbyes. It is not the being together that it prolongs. It is the parting.” Author Unknown

Marilyn Hittle (in audience with tissue in hand) was able to come to the fair Tuesday and hear two of her children perform at the gazebo. The program was dedicated to the memory of Jennifer Peck, another child of Marilyn's. (Linda Moody photo)
Darke County Now Staff - Linda Moody - Staff Writer

Linda Moody / Staff Writer

I am a Darke County native living in the Ansonia area with my son. I have been in journalism 50+ years and enjoy what I do.

Contact Darke County Now Media Correspondent Linda Moody @ or 937-337-1955.

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