Throughout the last few months while the pandemic continued to turn our would upside down, county fairs were a topic of concern. Many county boards had to make a difficult decision — whether to continue the fair or cancel. The Marion County Fair board from Ohio found themselves in the same boat and ultimately made the tough decision to formally cancel their local fair. Thankfully, however, they found a way for the River Valley FFA Chapter and 4-H members to get the chance to show off all of their hard work that they put in.
The Marion County Fair was originally supposed to take place June 29 through July 4. The revised fair approach was rescheduled for July 18 and ended July 24.
Although this was not a typical fair year, all shows were open to the exhibitors, family, and community members. The Marion County Fair had approximately 290 participants this year. While they were still able to have the show portion of the fair, they did have to make changes — no vendors or rides and showing off the trailer and leaving once your show had ended.
One of the biggest changes to the shows was that it did not take place in the usual barn, the show took place in a coliseum.
For the most part, all projects were able to be exhibited one way or another. For example, all crop, shop, and science projects were to be taken on videos showing what they did and how they accomplished their project. Also because of the cancellation of the fair, all grandstands events were canceled as well. These included a rodeo, truck and tractor pulls, and horse races.
River Valley FFA member Lilly Wagner stated that, “I thought this year’s fair was amazing! Even though it was not what we normally do, everyone did their part to get all the kids in the show ring. Being able to show in a new building was a fun experience that everyone enjoyed. All of the hard work really paid off and I’m thankful we were able to have the fair this year.”
Even though 4-H and FFA members had to make changes, there was a small bonus to the changes. Kyla Stockdale, one of the reporters from the River Valley FFA chapter said, “One amazing thing that was offered this year was all shows were live streamed on YouTube, so those that could not attend them were still able to watch. Whether some chose to not continue with their projects this year or if they did, everyone from the county and all fair board members were extremely proud of those individuals that had to make that tough decision. In the end it wasn’t the fair that anyone had planned to have, but we made the most of what we could.”
River Valley FFA member Sidney Knickle said, “The fair is part of summer we all look forward to and when the news came it was canceled we were devastated. Little did we know, the adults and senior fair board were busy working out an alternative plan. No, it wasn’t the normal fair full of food, late nights, grandstands events, and many long days in the show arena. But, it was an experience we’ll never forget, with so many memories and new ideas for the fairs to come. Everyone is so incredibly grateful for all the hard work and long hours put in by all. Their kindness allowed us to be able to do what we all work so hard for and enjoy every summer, being able to show.”
This story was submitted by Kyla Stockdale, River Valley FFA Chapter Reporter. If you have a story you would like to submit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.