1 Year After Explosion, Memorial Held At Fair

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - Heads were bowed. Tears rolled down faces. Memories were intense at a solemn ceremony recalling an explosion a year ago at the Medina County Fair.

Hundreds gathered Sunday at a garden that now serves as a permanent memorial to the five who were killed and the 47 others who were injured.

The gathering took note of the moment, 6:20 p.m. on July 29, 2001, when a 100-year-old steam tractor slowly rolled into a display area inside the west gate on the first day of the fair.

The tractor exploded, lifting the nearly 33,000-pound antique 15 feet into the air and sending hot water and shrapnel in every direction.

In the memorial garden rests a large stone with a plaque that reads: "If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, we'd walk right up to heaven and bring you home again."

Clifford Kovacic, who owned the tractor, and his son, William, died in the explosion. Bryan Hammond, who worked for Kovacic, and steam tractor enthusiasts Dennis Jungbluth and Alan Kimble also were killed.

Construction of the memorial garden began in October and was completed two weeks ago, said Dave Bertram, fair board president.

"This is part of history and we recognize that fact and remember those who were killed and injured," he said. "This is now a permanent part of our grounds."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)