The annual county fair’s kick-off event, the “Bryan County Fair Free Appreciation Luncheon,” was held at the Clay Jones Community Center to honor two county residents. The 2017 Bryan County Free Fair book honorees are James Thrasher and Diane Harper. Both Thrasher and Harper were recognized at the event for their dedication, hard work, and volunteerism. Both of these honorees volunteer many long hours to help make the fair happen each year. A special page is dedicated to each honoree in the fair book.
It may have been testing chickens in the poultry barn, setting up tables for the 4-H food and nutrition exhibit, setting up pens in the hog barn, shearing sheep, herding hogs, spreading shavings in the show ring or serving cokes at the 4-H concession stand but chances are you’ve seen this guy, James Thrasher helping out somewhere around the Bryan County Free Fair over the last 30-plus years.
James Thrasher and his wife Nancy are long time residents of Calera. The Thrashers have two grown children Kristie Hatlestad and Jeff Thrasher, and granddaughter Kira who is carrying on the 4-H tradition.
When their oldest daughter Kristie was old enough to help hold a chicken, James was active in helping her and any other youngster that was around. Seeing her win ribbons made everything worth it. In 1985 James bought a couple goats from a friend. His friend’s kiddos and both of James’ kids, Kristie and Jeffrey, exhibited the five goats at the county fair that year to start the goat showing craze (or so that’s what we will let James believe). James didn’t give his kids a choice if they wanted to livestock judge, they were there at the fair and there was a contest, so they would jump in and learn. He wasn’t afraid to try something new and encouraged his kids to always do the same – and his kids were any kids around him.
Over the years James has served in many capacities supporting the 4-H and FFA programs he believes in. He’s held offices as a member of the Bryan County 4-H Leaders council, Achille 4-H and FFA Booster club and has been given the Bryan County 4-H Volunteer of the year award and Achille FFA Honorary FFA Degree.
After Kristie and Jeffrey graduated, volunteering at the fair and spring livestock show was still in his blood and he could be found roaming around until someone put him to work.
Diane Harper and her husband Jack reside in Calera. They have been married for 53 years, and have been blessed with one daughter, Rebecca, and sons, Bryce, Bradley, and Bart.
With four small children, she was a stay-at-home mom, until she went to work at Calera Public School. She retired from the school after 27 years.
Upon retirement, Diane became involved in Oklahoma Home and Community Education (OHCE), being a member for six years. She was awarded County Rookie of the Year 2013, and County OHCE member of the year in 2016. She has served as president and vice president of the local Calera group, as well as Leadership Committee Chair. Diane also has served as County Chair for Family Issues, and for the past three years has been chairperson for the Bryan County Fair Book Ads.
Diane enjoys cooking, baking, and canning. She and her family have had a vegetable garden for as long as she can remember. A canner was one of the first things they bought after they moved here. Every summer the kids spent hours picking and snapping green beans and one year, she canned 80 quarts. While visiting relatives in Woodward, they would pick gobs of wild Sand Hill plums, because they make the very best jelly. She began entering jelly, vegetables, and pickles in the fair long before she was an OHCE member.
Attending the County Fair has always been fun for the family. The kids would enter animals, and she would enter canning and baked items. Diane has won numerous first placings, reserve grand champion and grand champion ribbons, plus she was awarded the Jarden (Ball & Kerr) award for soft spreads (jelly) often. For several years, she has served as Fair Assistant Superintendent for food preservation and has won the Fair’s “Best Bryan County Cookie” contest seven times.
She enjoys helping with 4-H Sew days because 4-H has played a big part in the lives of her children and now her grandchildren. As a child, Diane was in 4-H, doing team demonstrations, timely topics, and dress revue (as they were called then) and attending 4-H Roundup.
For Diane, she says lifetime friends have been made through OHCE, as they learn, work, and fellowship together. She feels that OHCE is an asset to Bryan County, and hopefully many lives have been touched through their community involvement projects and education.
We salute both James Thrasher and Diane Harper for all of their many hours of volunteerism at the Bryan County Free Fair and helping our Bryan County youth through the years.
Please make plans to attend and participate in the upcoming 2017 Bryan County Free Fair to be held Wednesday, September 6th through Saturday, September the 9th. The fair is a traditional county event offering many activities and contests for persons of all ages. For a complete schedule of the fair and listing of all events and contests to be held, pick up a copy of the 2017 Bryan County Free Fair book located at the Bryan Co. OSU Extension Office. For more information, contact the Bryan County OSU Extension Office at 924-5312. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its program to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, or status as a veteran and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Submitted by the Bryan County OSU Extension Office.