McClure steps down from fair board

| October 22, 2013
Jim McClure

Jim McClure

COSHOCTON – Jim McClure, a familiar sight at the Coshocton County Fair, called the 2013 fair his last as a director on the Coshocton County Fair Board. McClure served 33 years on the board. In an interview with The Beacon, he reflected on his service.

“It (2013) will not be my last fair but it will be my last fair as a director. I’ve been coming to the fair ever since I was old enough to walk. Thirty-three years is only a small portion of my involvement with the fair.”

McClure said that “Every fair has been memorable. Now, there are some memorable moments. I would have to say that landing Garth Brooks at the time that we did in his career – I think maybe we had a price on him of $8,500 – I don’t think probably he would walk across the street now but we got him as an up and coming artist as we had success with others over the course of the years. Even before he performed people called all the time and wanted to know when his show was. Even in the infancy of his career, he had to have one of the largest fan clubs going of any of the artists that we’ve had.”

“Another memorable thing that I was involved with was getting the model railroad building on the fairgrounds. I can recall one Sunday I picked up the Sunday Tribune and there was an article about them losing their home in the building that they had on Second Street and they had moved several times before that. I said to another fair board member (Ward Karr) – “Ward, we need to get them on the fairgrounds and the rest is history.”

Asking McClure if people have an idea what it takes to put the fair on each year, he said, “No, the average person has no idea what it takes to operate the fair. There are 40 plus buildings out here on 40 acres. We only have 40 acres and at times that is very evident when we run out of parking but there is only so much you can do when you are surrounded by residential area.”

McClure reflected on the Coshocton County Fair itself as compared to others around the state of Ohio. “Well, of course, I’m prejudiced but I have to believe that if there were a vote taken by folks that have attended maybe not all fairs but many of the fairs in the state of Ohio, we would be in their top five list and there are several reasons that I say this. We are on flat ground, as you know some of our neighboring counties do not enjoy that luxury, we are in the fall of the year which makes the agricultural displays so much more plentiful than some of the other fairs that are earlier in the year. I have to say that our agricultural display is right at the top of the list. We have to have the best agricultural display in the state of Ohio. We’re very proud of everything that we have on these fairgrounds. The diversity that we have – the entertainment and educational value that a person can receive for only $8 per day is unbelievable.”

When asked what he will miss about being on the senior fair board, McClure said, “I’m going to miss the interaction with the other fair board members of course, now that is off season when there is no fair going on. We have monthly meetings – we have a good group – our fair board is probably tops – there is no political infighting – we all get along and I know it’s cliché but we all get along like family. If we don’t agree on something, we take a vote and the majority rules. We’re out having coffee and ice cream after the meeting. There’s never been what I would call a knockdown, drag out argument amongst any of our fair board members.”

Looking ahead at the fair over the next five or 10 years, McClure said, “My personal answer to that is a new fairgrounds. It is – as I said we are 40 acres surrounded by residential area – can’t do much about that. We do buy a house every once in a while, but buying them up one at a time is expensive. We can’t do it that way. The fair board is going to have to find a way to move the fairgrounds – find a couple of hundred acres and move it. If we don’t, is that going to kill the fair. No, we will still continue but it will hamper some of the future expansion efforts.”

Talking about the fair and its impact on the young people of Coshocton County and surrounding areas, McClure said, “Again, a cliché but the young people are our future leaders and when you look at the organizations like the scouts, the junior grange, the FFA, and 4-H that make up our junior fair activities at the fair, we’re top notch. We have good kids, they have quality projects, we’ve always had good leadership and management from the extension office and they work very well with the senior fair board. They are the leaders of tomorrow and we can be proud of what our kids do. Country background yes, versus city backgrounds, let’s say Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, you do notice a difference. Our kids for the most part are polite and you see that on the fairgrounds.”

McClure responded to the question about any emotional moments during his 33 years of service. “Yes, I have an obvious emotional moment. It actually came shortly after the fair but it is this time of the year our daughter was born on Oct. 2, which was fair week. She died on Oct. 9 which was right after the fair from cancer at a young age. She had participated in many activities – livestock and non-livestock and was the 1990 junior fair queen. So every time the queen contest comes up or I walk down around the horse show arena or even the junior fair non-livestock building, memories come back. They’re all good memories but they trigger a tear once in a while.”

McClure left this comment for his fellow fair board members, “We’ve got a good game going guys, keep ‘er going.”

The Beacon asked a few of McClure’s peers on the fair board to reflect on his years of service and what it will mean to not have him around. Kim Wells said, “He has a lot of knowledge about the fair and it will leave a vacuum. We have been trying hard to get people in place to replace him. It’s been unrelentless I would say. He sleeps with the fair every night.”

Terry McCurdy said, “Mr. Coshocton County Fair. That’s pretty much it. Jim has been in that position so long, he knows it in and out. He is going to be deeply missed.”

Ward Karr, another longtime senior board member, said of McClure, “Jim has been a good backer of the fair – he worked with everyone pleasantly. We accomplished several major projects and Jim was at the front of several; including the new 4-H youth building. I’ll miss him; it will be a different fair without him.”

Rod Lindsey said, “The first words that I would think of are dedication and commitment. You don’t realize how much work goes into the fair. We have 18 board members and everyone does their part. The behind the scenes and all the work to pull this thing off are very extreme. The job that Jim has done on this board as far as our treasurer, working extremely close with the parking people. He is on the committee for entertainment – he wears a lot of different hats for us. He has done a great job for us in everything that he’s been involved in. He is going to be missed. He will be around next year – we won’t be able to keep him away.”

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About the Author ()

I live with my beautiful wife Nancy on a small farm just outside Coshocton. We have been married for thirty two years and have two grown children, Jessica and Jacob. Jessica is married to Aaron Mencer and they are employed with Coshocton City Schools. Jacob is a sophomore at Kent State University. I graduated from River View High School, have a Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina Wesleyan University and am actively involved with the Roscoe United Methodist Church, serve on several local committees and am a member of the Coshocton Kiwanis Club, having served as Past-President. I love reading, especially military thrillers, the Civil War and history in general. My goal is to write a novel. My wife and I are also AdvoCare distributors and encourage anyone wanting to lose weight, gain energy and better health to explore AdvoCare at our website; I love the media field, innovative technology and have worked in newspapers for over 30 years – in fact, my first job was delivering newspapers. The Beacon is a dream made possible by the support of this community and a great team. I hope to continue serving Coshocton County for many years.

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