SIDNEY — The Shelby County Fair will see several changes for this year. The death of longtine fair secretary Jerry Schaffner has left its mark on those planning the fair.
And the celebration of Shelby County’s bicentennial will be seen throughout the week..
Schaffner served as the Shelby County Fair Board Secretary for 31 years, beginning in 1987.
After his death, the fair board (agricultural society) has been hard at work trying to fill his shoes. Schaffner had many responsibilities as secretary, so many in fact, that the board has been discovering new things he took care of that they didn’t know about. One special responsibility that Schaffner had was communicating with all of the vendors that set up shop at the fair every year. He was on a first-name basis with each and every vendor, simply listing their first names in his contacts rather than the businesses they ran.
Schaffner had a real passion for the fair, always seeking to improve the experience through bringing on better vendors, rides or food. He accomplished this in part by traveling around the state, visiting many county fairs and learning from their varied successes and failures. This travel gave Schaffner a chance to recruit vendors to bring back to the Shelby County Fair, improving it further. Bill Clark, the acting secretary, said that once years ago, Schaffner took him to four county fairs in one day.
Schaffner had a lasting impact on the Shelby County Fair and was a fixture of the events for years. Jeremy Reese, Fair Board president, said replacing Schaffner has been tough for the fair board and they have had to work much harder to fill the gap he left.
Reese said the board would feel his absence for a long time. Everyone that is a part of thefair board has stepped up above and beyond to make this year’s fair a success. Even the preparation for this year’s fair was started by Schaffner and then built on by a new team of individuals.
Reese also acknowledged that “the board would like to thank everyone from County Commissioners Julie Ehemann, Bob Guillozet and Tony Bornhorst, to Sheriff John Lenhart, to (Sidney) Deputy Fire Chief Chad Hollinger, to the food vendors present at the fair for their help in setting up the fair. Everyone was very understanding and lots of local help was present, making this a real community effort.”
A new element of the fair this year is the celebration of the bicentennial of Shelby County. A special walk-through trailer will be on the premises with historical exhibits inside for visitors to learn more about the county and its rich history. 4-H will be celebrating the event as well, with animal stalls being decorated in red, white and blue. The Merchant’s Hall will also feature special decorations inside.
A memorial wall will be on display at this year’s fair, created by the Shelby County Historical Society. Two large flags, both special to this celebration will be hung — the Shelby County flag and the American flag.
The writer is a summer intern for the Sidney Daily News.