Four more benches will be available for people to rest on while attending the Fayette County Fair this year, thanks to the work of carpentry students from the Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center.

After a few community members reached out about sponsoring memorial benches in honor of friends and loved ones, fair board member Jennifer Deichert discovered their usual builder was unavailable to build the benches. That’s when she suggested to the fair board that students at CACTC may be able to help.

Deichert got the board’s OK and contacted CACTC Workforce Development Coordinator Shawna Little, who reached out to CACTC carpentry instructor Jerry Matthews, who said he and his students were happy to help.

“We’re always willing to do things for the community, especially for the fair or a nonprofit that needs it,” Matthews said, “so there was no hesitation.”

Matthews said students worked under a time crunch, as they needed to get the benches done before the end of the school year. After receiving treated lumber from the fair board, around eight students who attended in-person carpentry classes started the project May 14, finishing the project in about a week’s worth of workdays. By May 25, all four benches were complete.

“The students take a tremendous amount of pride when they complete a project like that, Matthews said. “That goes a long way and helps them gain confidence and experience.”

Each bench will have memorial engravements carved into the wood before the fair in a couple weeks, Deichert said.

Little said constructing the benches for the fairgrounds provided the CACTC students with hands-on experience and gave them the opportunity to serve their community.

“Hands-on experience is the whole reason why students enroll at the career and technical center,” she said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to fewer such opportunities being available this school year. “I think this was a great way for them to get that hands-on experience and give back to the community.”

The 2021 Fayette County Fair is scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 7. For more information about the fair and its events, visit fayettefair.com.

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