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Ross County Fair Stands Firm, A Junior Fair Only This August

Katie Feldhues presents a proposal for running a safe-successful Ross County Fair in 2020.

Presented by Hometown-Motors, Inc.

Ross County Fair Board President Bryan Bethel listens to a motion during open discussion at Tuesday’s meeting.

Despite recently relaxed restrictions on county fairs by the State of Ohio, the Ross County Fair will remain a livestock Junior Fair. 

Two weeks ago, the Ross County Fair Board voted to host only a Junior Fair in August. No rides, no grandstand entertainment, etc. That same night, it was determined to give Junior Fair representatives and barn superintendents time to devise a proposal describing to what extent that Fair would be.

Tuesday night, after hearing public commentary for more than an hour, the result remains the same. No Senior Fair.

Nearly 80 people attended the special meeting in the multipurpose building,  half the capacity permitted by the Ross County Health District. 4-H club advisors and other interested parties cited recent success with exhibits at the Pickaway County Agriculture and Events Center in a plea for giving a full Ross County Fair another consideration. 

Fair Board President, Bryan Bethel, while not discouraging to those speaking at the meeting, made it clear the planning is difficult. Bethel invited Pickaway County Fair Board President Von Cremeans to attend and speak at the meeting.

Cremeans told the audience after the State released guidelines for county fairs in late May, his group planned a Junior Fair with a second option should the pandemic showed signs of improvement. When Governor DeWine’s office relaxed restrictions June 9th, they voted to move forward with a full fair.

“Specific things have been addressed” said Cremeans. “If your grandstand holds 6,000, you can only have 2,500.

Cremeans added the Pickaway group will have volunteer civic groups that will help enforce social distancing and other guidelines mandated by the State. “We had a hog show and we had people from all over the state. The only people we had problems with were locals, but we had a meeting with them and after some grumbling they complied.” Cremeans noted the PAEC property is much smaller than the Ross County Fairgrounds by more than 150 acres and 1,300 camp sites which needed to be taken into consideration.

A motion by member Shaun Boggs to revisit the Ross County Fair Board’s previous decision to measure interest in holding a modified Senior Fair which would allow for camping, vendors having the midway and all following the new state guidelines. The motion failed.

4-H Extension Educator Katie Feldhues presented the Board with the requested proposal for hosting a Junior Fair. The presentation came with a caveat thanks to additional changes to the State guidelines released just hours before the meeting. 

In May, the State limited the length of time livestock could be kept at the fair. With such a change, Gary Prater motioned the proposal be modified to permit a Junior Fair Livestock show with camping for livestock exhibitors and essential personnel designated by the Junior Fair Board. The motion passed, which now means the proposal will be modified including when the livestock shows will take place.

That information will be released by the Junior Fair Board over the next few days.

Another change by the state will permit harness racing with spectators. Ross County will only race on Sunday during the Fair.

Masked Ross County Fair Board members Brad Cosenza and Peggy Gray listen during discussion over the Junior Fair proposal.