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Familiar face missing from fair

| September 21, 2017

COSHOCTON – The Coshocton County Fair will be missing a very familiar face this year.

When Ward Karr passed away on March 29, 2017, he was currently serving his 43rd year on the Coshocton County Fairboard where he was treasurer.

His wife Kathy Karr said that was just one of many titles he held and tasks he worked on as a fairboard member. Ward was involved at different times with the dairy barn, the speed department, inside and outside concessions, the hog barn, the sheep area, the grandstand, which he played a key role in getting updated, the finance committee and a tree committee, but those are just the areas she was aware of.

“Almost anything they built he was involved with,” Kathy said. “If they called him he was there. If they rebuilt fences or something he’d take the truck down to get the old stuff and dispose of it for them.”

She also helped when she could.

“When he did the speed department I’d help with writing checks,” Kathy said. “The fair meant a lot to him. It was in our blood.”

Ward was a farmer, his son participated in FFA and 4-H, and his grandkids show hogs.

“I really enjoyed helping my dad on the morning of the county tractor pull at the fair,” said Jeff Karr, Ward and Kathy’s son. “I got to blade the track and hook up the pulling tractors. Anything I did helping my dad at the fair, I enjoyed.”

Jeff also helped his dad build new pens in the open sheep barn.

“We built those steel green ones at home,” Jeff said. “We spent many evenings after milking building those. I think that was back in the 80s when I was in grade school. Sometimes it’d be midnight or 1 in the morning before we were done working on them. We just finished them a few days before the fair. We also built the old wooden pens in the junior fair hog barn with Charlie Marlatt. They just took those (the wooden ones) out of the hog barn and we have some at home. The fair was his life. He loved it and was always working on something all year long for the fairgrounds.”

Johnny Conley, caretaker at the fairgrounds, worked with Ward on a number of projects over the years.

“He’s missed a lot around here,” Conley said. “He volunteered for a lot of projects. There were so many I worked on with him, but most recently (before he passed away) was removing the old hub rail at the race track. He was involved in so many things here. If something came up, Ward would be there to help out.”

The week of the fair, Ward practically lived at the fairgrounds.

“The last couple of years especially he’d leave the house at 5 a.m. and not be home until midnight,” Kathy said. “This year is going to be different without him. If they had a problem at the fairgrounds they came to him.”

Jim McClure, who was on the fairboard for several years, said Ward was practically a walking encyclopedia of the fairgrounds.

“He was on the executive committee for a number of years, which is the one responsible for the upkeep of the grounds,” McClure said. “If you needed to know something about any building or waterline you didn’t have to go look up a diagram or blueprint. You just asked Ward. He knew where everything was. Ward’s sense of humor will be missed too. If he was happy everyone in a three block area knew because he had such a distinctive laugh.”

The fair wasn’t always just about work. It was also about family.

“It didn’t matter how busy Ward was with his duties fair week, he always made the time to come watch the grandkids show hogs,” said Kelly Karr, Jeff’s wife.

Jeff added that the fair will definitely be different this year without his father.

“It’s going to be hard,” Jeff said. “I’m 40 now and he was on the fairboard for 43 years. I’ve been told I never missed a day of the fair with him, even when I was a baby.”



Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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