In its fourth year at the Canfield Fair, Faces of the Fair returns with this year's creation by local artist Suzanne Bort Gray of Boardman. The montage of more than 4,000 faces photographed at last year's fair will focus on 4-H.
"Many people offer suggestions about what the final image should be, and I take them all into consideration," Gray said. "A large, well defined image works the best. There is much trial and error on my part before settling on the chosen image. I also try to reference different aspects of the fair. There is always a rooster, but it isn't necessarily the focal point. This year, the emphasis is on 4-H."
The Faces of the Fair program began in 2008 as part of the Fine Arts exhibit. Gray began by photographing people who volunteered to become part of the 2009 montage. That year, there were around 1,500 who had their faces photographed.
Photo special to the Town Crier
This year’s Faces of the Fair montage will focus on 4-H. It will also be easier for fairgoers who were photographed last year to find their photo as the montage is separated into three sections relating to the day the person was photographed.
The program continued each year and at the 2011 fair more than 4,000 were photographed. Gray even has some highlighted people who took part. One is the oldest person to be photographed.
"The oldest person to be photographed to my knowledge was Earla Smith of North Jackson," Gray said. "He was 103 and a half when his grandson, Elmer Smith, took him to the fair."
She said there were two photographs last year involving people who had passed away months after the fair. When she found out from the families, she was able to send them a high-resolution copy of the creation their loved one appeared in.
Once all the photographs have been taken, Gray starts the hard work of putting them together.
"Usually in October, I start working on the several thousand images, cropping them all to a uniform size," Gray said. "It's right about then that I also start collecting and testing images for the big picture."
It takes Gray months to assemble the montage and have it ready for the fair. A computer is integral to the process and Gray uses software developed by man from Amsterdam.
"He has been kind enough to work with me to ensure that 100 percent of the fair photos are used," Gray said. "He's also tweaked his program to allow more creativity when using the software."
In past years, one of the problems with the montage for a fairgoer was in trying to find their face. To make it a little easier this year, she assembled the faces according to when they were photographed. People photographed on Wednesday and Thursday are in the upper third; Friday and Saturday are in the middle; and Sunday and Monday will be located in the lower third.
Postcards, prints, and posters of the 2012 montage will be available for sale during the fair at the Arts & Crafts, and Fine Arts buildings, and at Always Yours frame shop in Canfield. All the proceeds from the sales benefit the fine arts department of the Canfield Fair.
While the 2012 Faces of the Fair is finished, work at this year's fair will begin for the 2013 Faces of the Fair. Staff at the Fine Arts building will be on hand again this year to photograph anyone who wants to participate. There is no fee to have a photo taken. In fact, Gray said last year there were some people who returned each day with different colored clothing to get photographed.
"To be included in the 2013 montage, people will need to stop in at the professional art wing of the Fine Arts building to be photographed," Gray said. "That is the only location where photos will be taken."
A sneak peek of the 2012 Faces of the Fair is viewable at graymattermontages.blogspot.com.