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Hats off to seniors at Lake County Fair Senior Citizen’s Day

Excitement overwhelms Arlene Dunn Crown Point Monday Aug. 4 2014 when she is named first place winner Senior Citizen Day

Excitement overwhelms Arlene Dunn of Crown Point Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, when she is named the first place winner in the Senior Citizen Day red hat contest at the Lake County Fair. | Carrie Napoleon/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 6, 2014 6:03AM



CROWN POINT — Senior citizens from near and far sharpened their carving knives and put on their best red hats Monday for Senior Citizens’ Day at the Lake County Fair.

Linda Hogan of Lowell had her family out to support her during the contest. Her daughter Kelly Hawkins and her granddaughters, twins Caitlin and Kelsey, 4, made the trip up from Fishers to cheer Hogan on and spend the day at the fair.

“They just want to ride the rides,” Hogan said of the girls.

She nabbed third place for her red hat, a patriotic, light-up top hat handcrafted from sheet metal by her friend Richard Oman of Lowell. The Red Hat Society member said she entered last year, with what she thought was a better hat, but did not win.

“I brought a cheering section this time. I think it helped.”

Hawkins regularly attended the fair as a child with her mom, said this is the first time her daughters had been to the fair. The girls were eager to see the horses and chickens and were ready to hit the midway right after their grandmother finished the competition.

“It’s a blast. They love it,” Hawkins said.

First-place winner Arlene Dunn of Crown Point had her family in tow for support as well. Great-nephew Devin Holcomb, came up from Iowa to spend some time at the fair and support his aunt. He has been to the fair a number of times over the years.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said.

His aunt, Debbie Lilly, and grandfather, Joel Ebert, both of Crown Point, also were in tow.

“It’s a family affair,” Lilly said.

Dunn, who has competed in the red hat contest for years, won over the judges this time around with a hat that showcased one of her passions, music box collecting. Her hat featured a concealed working music box.

“I love it. I do a different hat every year.”

Debbie Gamble of Calumet City, Illinois, took second place. Casimira Balinkski of Calumet City and Barbara Kain of Medaryville also participated.

More than 1,000 seniors made their way through the Showcase Tent during the Senior Day activities where they were also able to take advantage of free health screenings provided by Franciscan St. Anthony Health and get information about issues and services related to seniors.

They also had the chance to participate in the annual apple peeling contest.

Blair Carothers of Chicago walked away with first prize in the apple peeling contest after a record-setting effort of 81.25 inches. Mary Kapitan of Crown Point came in second with 60 inches and Pat Gilarski of Gary rounded out the winners in third with 57.5 inches.

Other participants included Crown Point residents Brenda Fox, 52 inches; Barbara Johnson, 39 inches, and Jack Seniw with 29.25 inches; Millie Hovanek of Merrillville, 46 inches; Muriel Hawks of Gary, 31 inches and Sue Hein of Lowell with 21 inches. Illinois participants included Casmira Bilinski of Calumet City, 36.25 inches; Mary Kezler of Lansing, 39.25 inches; and Dolly Dykstra of Beecher, 23 inches.



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