Youngsters and teenagers from across the state gathered on the final day of the 2013 S.C. State Fair to acknowledge the love and support of their grandparents. And to hear some of their stories, its easy to understand why.
I love her big red heart because it is full of love, 7-year-old Olivia McConnell remarked of her grandmother Earle Bennett of West Columbia. I love her big red heart because she is always happy, cheerful and ready to go.
If I need a person to talk to after a long, hard day, my grandma is right there, 13-year-old Micah Cook said of his grandmother Mary Cook of Columbia.
Bennett and Cook were two of six winners in this years State Fair Greatest Grandparents competition. The winners were revealed during ceremonies Sunday afternoon in the Grandstand.
The 27th annual competition selected two winners from three age divisions 7-10, 11-13 and 14-18 from several thousand entries submitted by grandchildren in this years event.
Roumania Cooper of Gable, nominated by Darrell Parrott of Sumter, was named greatest grandfather in the age 7-10 division.
Bill Poole of Simpsonville, nominated by G. Hazelhurst of Greenville, was named greatest grandfather in the age 11-13 division.
Patricia McFadden of Rock Hill, nominated by RoseCatherine James of Rock Hill, was named greatest grandmother in the age 14-18 group. And Ronald Roberson of Summerton, nominated by Peyton McInnis of Summerton, was named greatest grandfather in the age 14-18 group.
She has never told or shown me in any way she doesnt have time for me, RoseCatherine wrote in her essay. She is constantly saying, Dont forget. Dont forget I love you. Dont forget youre special. I am sure that she loves me and that I will never forget.
All six grandparents receive a flat-screen television and plaque.
But most agreed their biggest prize was not in a box.
Several of the winners celebrated their selections with family members who had come along to support them.
State Fair assistant manager Nancy Smith said that is evidence of the strong relationships many children share with their grandparents across the state.
Its a special bond between the children and their grandparents, and you can just see that in the reactions when they walk up on the stage, she said. Teachers across the state also have used this competition in their classrooms, and we are thrilled to see the heartwarming thoughts of their students expressed through the educational process.
Sundays ceremonies drew several hundred guests to the Grandstand.
That just goes to show how much this event means to people, Smith said.