Fair board pushes through pandemic

MIAMI COUNTY — During a typical year, the lights and sounds of carnival rides and the dizzy spin of a Ferris wheel would fill the horizon of the Miami County Fairgrounds this time of year.

Instead, it was a much quieter atmosphere with the occasional burst of barnyard noise from the animal barns. At the end of July, Gov. Mike DeWine limited county fairs to only youth activities: junior fair, 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and FFA exhibitors only. Amusement rides and games were banned. Livestock sales were restricted, and live sales were canceled. Animal shows were limited to 10 exhibitors at a time in the show ring.

The Miami County Agriculture Society board voted not to charge admission at the gates, allowed camping to those who were interested, including day-by-day rates or to rollover fees to 2021. Other pre-paid amenities like parking were rolled over to 2021 as well.

“Overall, once we got started, everything went pretty good,” said Agriculture Society President Nick Shellenberger on Wednesday. Prior to the start of the fair, an underground electrical main line went bad, leaving barns and campers in the dark before it could be restored by Saturday morning.

The only major incident to report was a collision among harness racers late Tuesday. One person was transported to the hospital for a serious back injury. All horses survived the incident, but a report regarding the extent of their injuries was not available.

Shellenberger said those in attendance were cooperative with the adjustment with the show schedules. Shellenberger said animal numbers were down a bit, but not at an alarming rate in any species. The final shows were held Wednesday. Although the fair is open through Thursday, it will be a clean-up day on the grounds.

Attendees were limited to families of exhibitors or the public to “grab and go” food from the short list of vendors.

Shellenberger said food vendors “did fairly well.” The board voted to only charge the 10-12 vendors the cost of electric and water due to the lack of crowds coming through the gates.

Junior fair board members passed around donation buckets at various shows throughout the fair. A total amount collected hadn’t been tallied yet.

“Every little bit helps,” he said. “It all went pretty well, it was quiet. The health department came out the first day (and) said they were pretty impressed the way we laid things out.”

Shellenberger said he received a lot of positive comments from those in attendance and from families who appreciated the board pressed on to put on the junior fair following the state mandates at the end of July.

“There was a lot of support for our decision to at least put on a fair as much as we could,” he said. Shellenberger said many of the changes will be discussed and be presented on how the board will conduct its future fairs following the pandemic.

“This year will help shape what our fair will look like in the future,” he said.

Shellenberger said he hopes despite the cancellation of the fair’s junior livestock sale and sale of champions, the community can log in on the fair’s website to contribute to help support the county’s youth.

He said the fair office staff worked hard to set up the online sale so each exhibitor could share their account with family, friends and local supporters.

“We hope everyone gets a good response and support this year,” he said.

The online sale went live on Wednesday and will be held through Aug. 28. For more information or to support an exhibitor, visit www.miamicountyohiofair.com