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Young spellers shine at Lewis County Fair (VIDEO)


LOWVILLE — After a particularly tense competition in the grades five and six spelling bee Friday at the Lewis County Fair, it was only fitting that Alyssa Spence took the title by correctly spelling the word “competition.”

“I’m happy, I guess,” the Lowville Academy and Central School student said simply after going numerous rounds with eventual second-place finisher Diamond Reynolds from Beaver River Central School, including a couple in which both misspelled words.

While both spellers appeared cool under the pressure, Alyssa’s grandmother, Pamela Lyndaker of Beaver Falls, said she had a difficult time remaining calm as the rounds continued.

“I was having heart failure,” she said.

For Alyssa, this was her first victory after a couple of top five finishes in the past couple of years at the annual event.

To prepare for the bee, she said, she often goes over word spellings in her head, as well as practicing out loud with her father.

In the grades seven and eight contest, Ruth Haldeman from River Valley Mennonite School correctly spelled the word “hairiest” to outlast five other competitors, as half the contestants slated for a 12-person field did not attend.

“It went really fast,” said Ruth, who had also won her age group during a prior fair.

Despite the small turnout, she said it was a very enjoyable and friendly competition.

She attributed her spelling prowess to a steady diet of reading.

Students from the Beaver River, Copenhagen, Lowville and South Lewis central school districts and River Valley Mennonite School and home schoolers participated Friday in four different grade-level competitions.

In grades one and two, Julianna Maguirre from Beaver River took first place after correctly spelling the word “sneeze.”

And in grades three and four, South Lewis’ Erica Coffin took top honors.

Prior to each contest, Dawn D. Ludovici, Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services assistant superintendent and the spelling bee master of ceremonies, pointed out that all competitors had previously excelled at their respective school bees.

“That means they are already winners,” she said. “They’ve all proven themselves to be super spellers.”

Martha Jones from South Lewis was the pronouncer, while Debbie Domagala from Lowville, Nadine O’Shaughnessy from Copenhagen and Laura Vigliotti from Beaver River served as judges.

The spelling bee, held on the second Children’s Day of this year’s fair, was sponsored by the Watertown Daily Times and Journal & Republican, the Lewis County Agricultural Society, the Lewis County Democratic Party and Jefferson-Lewis BOCES.

The top five spellers in each age group received books and cash prizes ranging from $10 to $35. All participants also received certificates and ribbons.

Today is Family Day at the fair. Activities begin with an open horse show at 9 a.m. and a dog show and King Arthur Baking Contest, both at 10 a.m. An open sheep and goat show will also be held at 1:30 p.m.

The Coleman Bros. midway opens at noon, with $25 wristbands to be sold from noon to 4 p.m. that will allow purchasers to ride until 6 p.m.

The 2014 fair will conclude with the annual demolition derby. The first run will begin at 1 p.m., while the second will start at 6 p.m.

To see video of the tractor pull at the fair Thursday, go to

Tractor Pull at the Lewis County Fair

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