SIDNEY — It was an emotional day Sunday for Shelby County Fair Secretary Jerry Schaffner.
First, he watched as fair-goers walked into the new grandstands — a culmination of Schaffner’s work along with that of the agricultural society (fair board), Shelby County Commissioners and sponsors — for the past year.
Second, he listened as Fair Board President Mitch Brautigam dedicated the 2017 Shelby County Fair to Schaffner’s late wife, Patricia “Pat” Schaffner, who passed away on May 29, 2017.
“They told me this morning (Sunday) that they were dedicating the fair to Pat,” said Schaffner after the opening ceremony, which also included the dedication of the new grandstand. “It was hard hearing it. This hasn’t bothered me as much as it has today. It was very good of them to do this. I really appreciate it.”
During the ceremony, Brautigam said Pat Schaffner was a mainstay in the secretary’s office for many years.
“Pat loved the fair,” said Brautigam. “She looked forward to it every year.”
Brautigam also thanked everyone who had donated to the construction of the new grandstands. Last year, the fair board rented bleachers during fair week as the previous grandstand had been declared unsafe.
“Farm Credit finished the project for us,” said Brautigam.
He also recognized fellow officers Eugene Schulze and Tim Everett.
Proclamations were read by Joe Braden from State Auditor Dave Yost’s office; Elaine Herrick, field representative for Secretary of State Jon Husted; and Taylor Wight,from State Treasurer Josh Mandel’s office.
“Congratulations to all the fair board members for your hard work during the last year to make this happen,” said Braden.
Herrick said the fair board members should be commended for the success of the Shelby County Fair. The current members’s work will leave a measure of success for those who follow them on the board.
Chuck Craynon, who served as master of ceremony, asked the crowd of hundreds in the grandstand if they were comfortable in the new facility. A resounding cheer and hand claps was given those in attendance.
“They (fair board) did a wonderful job didn’t they?” asked Craynon.
Shelby County Commissioner Bob Guillozet welcomed everyone to the 157th Shelby County Fair.
“This (grandstand) is quite an accomplishment,” he said. “As I look around the grandstand, I see elected officials, fair board members and community (members). Everyone was involved in the project.”
Guillozet encouraged everyone to visit the midway and sample the fair food. He wished all the 4-H members good luck with their animals.
“Let the fair begin,” said Guillozet.
“A lot of people worked hard to get this (grandstand) done,” said Craynon. “There were a lot of donors to the project. If you see them, thank them for what they did for the people of Shelby County.”
Guillozet, along with fellow commissioners Julie Ehemann and Tony Bornhorst, were impressed with the number of people who attended the opening ceremony.
“It was awesome,” said Ehemann.
“This is the biggest crowed I’ve ever seen,” said Guillozet
“I didn’t realize how roomy and spacious it is until I was standing out here (racetrack) and look at it,” said Bornhorst.
Former Shelby County Commissioner John Laws was in attendance for the ceremony.
“When I was a commissioner, we built the livestock barn,” said Laws. “My name is on that building. I love the fair. I think if we promoted 4-H more and got kids involved, we’d see less kids in trouble.”
Laws, who has lived his entire life in Shelby County, said the is very impressed with the new grandstand.
“It’s beautiful,” said Laws, “I wholeheartedly supported this. I really like that it’s covered.”
Boy Scout 97 of Sidney served as the color guard for the ceremony. Houston High School marching band played the “Star Spangled Banner” and another selection. The band performed later at the free entertainment tent.
An early morning storm caused the cheerleading competition to be moved to Sidney Middle School.
The rain held off for the opening ceremony and then another short-lived storm moved through the area.
Highlights of Sunday’s fair included the crowning of the Junior Fair king and queen and the Little Mr. and Miss Shelby County Fair, baked goods auction, the Junior Fair breeding rabbit show and showmanship, the Senior open class and Junior Fair beef breeding shows, along with entertainment by hypnotist Mike Bishop, Ninja warrior competition and fun with nature crafts.
Monday at the fair is car load night sponsored by Area Energy & Electric. Shelby County veterans will be honored during a program at 7 p.m. in the free entertainment tent. Horseshoe pitching begins with mixed doubles at 7 p.m.
In the Junior Fair, the market rabbit show, the horse show and dairy color breed show all begin at 9 a.m. 4-H Club display and educational booth judging starts at 1 p.m. The meat goat showmanship begins at 4 p.m. in Kent Feeds Arena 1. It will be followed by the boer/boer cross breeding show at 5:30 p.m. and the market goat show at 7 p.m.
Tuesday is Senior Citizens Day at the fair. The event is sponsored by Honda of America. The Dale Minyo Ag Radio Show will be broadcast from the fair from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the livestock complex. Harness racing begins at 5:30 p.m. Mens and Womens class A & B horseshoe pitching starts at 7 p.m. The Jackson Center Sensations will be performing at 8 p.m. at the free entertainment tent.
Tuesday’s Junior Fair includes the dairy goat show at 9 a.m.; horse show: groom and clean at noon; feeder calf show at 4 p.m.; swine showmanship at 5:30 p.m.; horse show (key hole, pole bending, stakes, clover leaf barrels) and market cattle show, both beginning at 7 p.m.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.