For the first time in several years all 21 seats on the Washington County Fair Board have been filled, with seven new members joining the 2014 board.
"We were down to less than 16 members during this year's fair, but we're going into the new year with a full membership," said board president Fred Boyd.
He said the 2014 board will also include 14 members returning from the 2013 group.
The seven new members include Bill Wesel, Sam Miller and Danny Chambers of Marietta, Shawna Burke of Waterford, Curt Moore of Reno, Curt Welch of Little Hocking and Barlow resident Dean McCoy.
"We told people that the board had some openings, and several have stepped up to become new members," Boyd said.
Dean McCoy considers himself a new member, although he did serve on the fair board back in the 1980s. He said the new board members are enthusiastic.
At a glance
Seven new members have joined the 2014 Washington County Fair Board:
Curt Welch-Little Hocking.
To rent fairgrounds buildings or campsites, or to become a Washington County Fair sponsor, call the fair board office at 373-1347 and leave a message. Phone messages are now being checked daily.
The community is invited to a Christmas auction in the junior fair building at the Washington County Fairgrounds Saturday. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the auction begins at 6.
Source: Washington County Fair Board.
"We've only had a couple of meetings so far, but everybody seems to get along," he said.
McCoy, who taught FFA students in the Warren and Woodsfield school districts, would like to encourage more young people to become involved with the county fair.
"Years ago the 4-H Clubs and horse clubs were huge," he said. "But now there's so much kids and parents are involved with that those numbers have dropped off."
McCoy believes the new, more robust fair board should be able to boost participation in the fair by the younger generation.
Paul Barth, the 2014 board's vice president, has served on the fair board for the last 34 years.
"It's good to have a full board now," he said. "There's been a lot of talk that the county fair has gone downhill over the past several years, but I think these people are stepping up to see that change."
Barth said when fair time rolled around in September this year there were only about 12 or 13 people on the board.
"It's been a few years since we've had a full fair board, and when it's not full there aren't enough people to fill the various committees needed to run the fair," he said.
Fair board secretary Dick Henthorn agreed.
"I'm always asked why there are so many seats on the fair board, but come fair time you need every person you can get," he said. "We try to get the committees assigned as soon as possible every year because they're important."
Henthorn explained that each committee is assigned to work on a different fair activity, and the members bring ideas and information about those activities to the full fair board.
"We try to assign people to the areas in which they may have some expertise," he said, noting the various committees handle everything from grandstand entertainment and amusements to livestock or flower and vegetable displays.
"We're very encouraged by the enthusiasm of this new board and just hope we can keep that enthusiasm up all through the year," Henthorn added.
Boyd said the fair board is currently looking to secure a contract with a new amusement rides company and entertainment for the 2014 Washington County Fair.
"We also welcome any comments about what the community would like to see at the 2014 fair," he said. "We want to make this fair a real fair again."
Boyd added that more sponsors are needed for the county fair and other activities at the fairgrounds, including the annual 4th of July fireworks celebration.
"It's not as big a display as the Ohio River Sternwheel fireworks, but putting fireworks on during the 4th of July costs us around $5,000 a year," he said. "And people say they want to see more big-name entertainers at the county fair, but those entertainers are expensive, and if the weather turns bad and they can't perform, they still have to be paid."
Boyd noted the fair board generates revenue year round from leasing space in fairgrounds buildings for various events and activities, as well as winter storage space in the cattle barn area for boats, trailers and other vehicles.
He said facilities for RV camping are also available for lease at the fairgrounds throughout the year and anyone interested may contact the fair board by leaving a message at 373-1347. Boyd said the new board is checking those phone messages daily.