COLUMBUS — For more than 30 years, Jerry Schaffner, of Sidney, was the face of the Shelby County Fair. Even after his death in March 2019, Schaffner remained in the hearts of those associated with fairs across Ohio.
On Sunday, Jan. 5, Schaffner was elected into the Ohio Fair Managers Association Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Columbus. His sons, Jason, Kevin and Brian, accepted the award in their dad’s honor.
Schaffner grew up on a small dairy farm in rural Houston, Ohio. where he learned about agriculture and a strong work ethic. He was a founding member of the Shelby County Rabbit Breeders Club. His family raised and showed rabbits in Ohio and the surrounding states for many years.
In later years, Schaffner enjoyed throwing horseshoes and playing cards with his friends. Everyone knew that Schaffner was always good for at least a joke or two, since he always enjoyed a good laugh. In addition to family and the fair, Schaffner was employed by Best One Tire for over 56 years where he knew almost every customer that visited the store.
In 2018, Schaffner was inducted in the Shelby County 4-H Hall of Fame. He was quite honored and it was a testimony to his unwavering support for the 4-H youth and the 4-H program. The interesting part of this induction was his friend, Keith Motter, who was in Jerry and Pat’s wedding received the same honor. They have been friends for life. In 2013, Jerry received the Greater Ohio Showman’s Associations Secretary of the Year award. The Buckeye Farm Antiques Club selected Jerry as their 2018 President’s award recipient.
Since being fair secretary for 33 years, Schaffner was always receiving “gifts” from the fair vendors, especially since his birthday always seem to fall during the Shelby County Fair. They would make him T-shirts, bring him food, and various other fair items. Schaffner was always up for a game of chance; which is probably how in the same year that he was a contestant on Ohio’s Cash Explosion he also a finalist in the county’s $10,000 Reverse Raffle.
Wherever Schaffner went, he was wearing his Shelby County Fair director attire. He almost always wore a director’s hat with the accompanying fair director’s shirt. It is believed that he had at least one of every color. Schaffner always liked meeting with the various fair entertainers and would have a picture taken with them.
While in high school, he was a standout basketball player for the Houston Wildcats, a 1963 graduate and met his life partner, Pat Russell. On June 20, 1964, they were married and had three boys; Jason, Kevin and Brian. Jerry and Pat had two grandchildren; Maddison and Brandon.
Schaffner is now managing the great fair in heaven.
“Come Together” was the theme of the OFMA’s annual convention Jan. 2-5. More than 1,750 Ohio fair managers, officers and directors met to take part in 130 educational sessions and were joined by 1,050 Junior Fair Youth on Saturday, Jan. 4 for 34 educational sessions.
The key note address from Kayla Grammer and her mother, Christy Smith, on the topic of “Never Alone” was delivered to over 2,200 adults and youth attended this keynote address Saturday, Jan. 4. Kayla a 4-H youth who became an addicted youth, related her story from addiction to recovery.
The annual tradeshow held 142 spaces for the two day tradeshow Friday and Saturday.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt Gov. Jon Husted, State Auditor Keith Faber and State Treasurer Robert Sprague joined Ohio Director of Agriculture Dorothy Pelanda and over 700 Ohio Fair officials for the director of agriculture Lunch Friday, Jan. 3.
Dr. Tony Forshey. Ohio Department of Agricultural state veterinarian, was honored with an Appreciation Award Plaque for his continued educational sessions during the annual OFMA convention and the Safe Guarding of Ohio’s Livestock Industry.
The newly elected officers for 2020-21 are Rod Arter, president, Hartford Independent Fair; Paul Harris, first vice president, Great Geauga County Fair; Stanley Strode, second vice president, Morgan County Fair; and Robert Dawson, treasurer, Lake County Fair.
Attending the convention from Shelby County were 12 senior fair board members and 16 junior fair board members.