Fair Board receives positive reviews for 2020 fair

By Kyle Shaner - kshaner@sidneydailynews.com

SIDNEY – The Shelby County Fair Board received positive feedback for the 2020 Shelby County Fair, which was scaled back this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With it being a different look of the fair, I thought it went really well,” Shelby County Fair Board President Eric Garber said of this year’s fair. “A lot of good, positive comments from the community. A lot of good, positive comments from the exhibitors and their parents.”

The Shelby County Fair was limited to Junior Fair shows and harness racing this year, eliminating rides, shows and vendors that typically were part of the festivities.

The move proved prescient as during the week of the Shelby County Fair, Gov. Mike DeWine announced regulations that limited all of Ohio’s county fair activities. Soon thereafter other fair boards called Shelby County Fair Board members to seek guidance on how to adapt to the changes.

“I truly do believe we had the right decision off the bat,” Garber said of Shelby County’s decision in May to limit this year’s fair.

Because of the scaled-back fair and the loss of rental income due to the pandemic, the Shelby County Fair Board has taken in $260,790.81 in revenue this year, only 51 percent of its normal income. The Fair Board did make approximately $7,000 by hosting harness races. Expenses are down to $219,655.37, 42 percent of a normal year.

“We’re sitting OK,” Garber said of the finances. “There is a concern. Obviously with only 51 percent of the money coming in this year, yes, it’s down. You heard we have a water leak that’s going to be pretty expensive. Hopefully we can recoup some of that from the city of Sidney after it’s fixed.”

During Wednesday’s monthly Fair Board meeting, Shelby County Maintenance Supervisor Chris Roediger reported a water leak was discovered at the fairgrounds and turned off.

Also during the meeting, the fair board voted to ban ractopamine beginning with the 2021 Shelby County Fair.

Ractopamine is a feed additive that promotes leanness in hogs. Although it is considered safe and legal by the Food and Drug Administration and United States Department of Agriculture, it is banned in other parts of the world including China and Europe.

Because of the bans in other countries, American meat processors have stopped buying hogs that are fed ractopamine. The Ohio State Fair banned it in February as part of a plan created with the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Department of Agriculture.

The Shelby County Fair Board discussed ractopamine at its meetings in January and February but declined to ban it then. However, during Wednesday’s meeting it decided to ban ractopamine moving forward by a 15-6 vote.

The Fair Board also voted to forgo asking Adams Apple Cafe, Boy Scout Troop 97 and Houston Community Center for 15 percent of their profits from this year’s fair booths. The decision was made in appreciation of the vendors coming to the fair, to allow them to invest back into their communities and because the vendors didn’t make much money.

The Fair Board agreed to roll over a contract with All American Petting Zoo, of South Carolina, to the 2021 fair. The operator initially wanted to be paid for this year’s fair but agreed to the change just days before the fair was to begin.

Eugene Schulze said the annual reverse raffle will proceed but instead of having an in-person event, the raffle will be live streamed this year. Tickets still are available, and everyone who buys a ticket will be able to pick up carry-out dinners.

Jason Howell suggested looking into the possibility of having auxiliary members of the board. Auxiliary members wouldn’t have voting privileges but their knowledge could help the board make decisions. Howell will gather more information about how other fair boards have handled auxiliary positions and will report back to the board at its next meeting.

Bill Clark reported the Fair Board’s constitution is going through a routine overview.

The board also approved the dates for the 2021 Shelby County Fair as July 25-31, 2021.

By Kyle Shaner


Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.