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Fairboard members discuss what it takes to run the fair

| September 26, 2016

COSHOCTON – Organizing the Coshocton County Fair each year is a year-long process and nobody knows that better than the Coshocton County Agricultural Society. With electric bills, paying premiums, entertainment, and employees, and operating the grounds in the off-season, the fairboard depends a lot on the community to help out.

“I think the biggest challenge is to be able to have enough funds at the end of the year to maintain infrastructure, buildings, and lights,” said Ward Karr, treasurer of the fairboard. “We depend on a lot of help from the community, grants, and donations to keep us going.”

Bob Buxton, who has been on the fairboard for 37 years, agrees that the biggest challenge the board faces is to educate the public about what it takes to keep the fair up and running.

“The biggest challenge for us is to keep the public informed on what it takes to keep the fair going,” said Buxton. “They don’t realize the cost it is to run the fair. We are not funded by anybody. We are completely self-funded.”

One of the reasons other county fairs have a cheaper admission charge is because they are funded in part by corporate sponsors. The Coshocton County Fair has no corporate sponsors.

Attendance at the fair the past several years has been low, but fairboard members try to bring something new to the fair every year to keep people coming.

“We try to make things different in the art hall every year so that people will come back,” said Buxton, who is in charge of the art hall. “We start in the art hall on Monday before the fair cleaning the hall, then the quilts come in on Tuesday and we judge them Wednesday. It’s a full week even before the fair starts.”

Karr has been busy getting ready for the fair as well. This year, he put a new chain link fence up around the horse racing arena and new numbers on the hog pens. He is also the superintendent of the speed department.

“I just enjoy it,” said Karr. “My kids were in 4-H and they’re all grown up and I’ve got grandkids now who have been through the program. I enjoy going down, participating, and helping out.”

Karr has been a member of the fairboard for about 40 years and is currently treasurer and is in charge of the gates and collecting the money at the end of every day. Every year, six members are elected or re-elected to the fairboard and the president of the board has a two-year term.

“Anybody can run for the fairboard,” said Karr. “You have to have a fair membership for two years and 10 signatures on a petition from people who are fairboard members.”

Karr said that during the fair, he will sometimes put in 16-hour days from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

“I try to help out the other members when I have time,” said Karr. “It takes a lot of work on everybody’s part. One guy can’t be in charge of every department.”

The fair has changed over the years and Karr thinks that the biggest change has had to do with technology.

“Probably the biggest change I’ve seen is in the midway because of the digital age,” said Karr. “Kids now are playing on their computers and phones and that has almost put the vendors out of business.”

However, the fair has always been and continues to be a place to meet up with old friends and make new ones.

“I enjoy working with people and meeting new people,” said Buxton. “I’ve been to 22 county fairs this summer and just talking with people at the other fairs and getting new ideas, that’s something I really enjoy.”

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Category: Arts & Entertainment

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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