Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Tessie Gladhill continues family tradition of Damascus fair

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Brian Lewis⁄The Gazette
Tessie Gladhill is carrying on the traditions of the Damascus Community Fair, which will be held Sept. 7-9.
Tessie Gladhill remembers winning her first blue ribbon at the Damascus Community Fair when she was 10 years old.

She won the ribbon for a bright, red tomato.

Gladhill, now 47, is about to complete her second year as president of the fair and hopes the beloved annual event can introduce a new generation of suburbanites to the community’s agricultural past

‘‘The community is changing,” Gladhill said. ‘‘We are probably at a stage now that a lot of the Damascus community is not familiar with the Damascus Community Fair. Anyone that has been in the community since the [19]40s — since it originally started — knows it, has been to it and has children that have been involved in it.”

This year’s fair is set for Sept. 7-9 at the Damascus Activity Center and Carnival Grounds on Lewis Drive.

Gladhill grew up in Damascus and members of her family have been heavily involved in the fair for generations. Some residents say she has carried the torch well for her family and the community.

‘‘She is a good person with knowledge of a lot of things,” Damascus resident Curtis Warfield, who has been a member of the fair board since 2000, said. ‘‘She has good leadership qualities and she is pleasant to deal with.”

The fair’s board meets once a month throughout the year to plan for the event. Gladhill has been on the board of directors since 1998 and has served as indoor entry supervisor and as a member of the banquet committee.

Carol Goodman of Mount Airy, who serves as the catalogue chairwoman of the fair, said that Gladhill is friendly, down to earth and welcoming.

‘‘She knows a lot of people,” Goodman said. ‘‘ She is wonderfully involved and very organized.”

Tessie Gladhill helps run the daily operations at Gladhill Brothers in Damascus, a family business that has been selling farm machinery since her grandfather, Bernard ‘‘Buck” Gladhill, opened it in 1937. She is also involved in the Damascus Lions Club.

The Gladhill family has been a longtime fixture in the local agricultural scene and Buck Gladhill was a farmer who owned land in Montgomery and Frederick counties before he passed away in 2005 at age 96.

Tessie Gladhill said her father, Sam Gladhill, used to help set up the Damascus Community Fair back in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She would help to plow the weeds behind the family’s vegetable garden with her other two siblings as she was growing up.

‘‘The one thing I remember every year the community fair came around was us going to the garden and picking those vegetables,” she said. ‘‘My Mom and Dad let us pick out the ones we wanted to take to the fair for our display and our name.”

Gladhill’s aunt, Mary Grimes, won a blue ribbon for her sewing entries back in the 1950s. Members of the Gladhill family have always submitted entries to the Damascus Community Fair.

There are many events set up for this year’s fair that Gladhill believes children will enjoy, including the coloring contest and the display of farm animals.

She is also looking forward to watching the children’s reaction when they see their contest entries on display.

‘‘That is a great feeling to see a kid so excited over something that he has done, accomplished, or brought it and put his name on,” Gladhill said. ‘‘That kind of like melts your heart. This is why you are putting in the time and the effort in working with the [fair] — to see that smile.”

Coming soon

The Damascus Community Fair will be held Sept. 7-9 at the Damascus Activity Center and Carnival Grounds, 10211 Lewis Drive in Damascus.

The event will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 7, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 8 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 9. Highlights will include a karaoke contest 7-9 p.m. Sept. 7 and a livestock⁄cake auction at 7 p.m. Sept. 8.

Admission is free. For more information, visit