SIDNEY — As fair week nears, the Shelby County Fairgrounds are abuzz with activity as concessionaires, ride operators, and exhibitors work diligently to finalize preparations for opening day.
The Shelby County Fair Board convened Wednesday evening for its final meeting before the fair begins. Jerry Schaffner, fair director, said this meet-up is typically shorter in duration than the board’s regular monthly meetings.
“We don’t do any minutes, we don’t do any treasury report because we’re all (ready) to get to work,” Schaffner said.
The main goal for Wednesday night, Schaffner said, was to get all of the pens assigned to the animal showing participants.
Jadyn Yinger, 16, of Jackson Center, is a member of the junior fair board and, with the help of her siblings, will be showing eight hogs at this year’s fair.
This is Jadyn’s first year on the fair board, and she said a lot of planning goes into executing the junior fair. The board meets monthly year-round, and preparation for this year at the fairgrounds began on Monday.
“It’s a lot of work,” Jadyn said. “This week, there’s pre-fair judging that goes on during the day; (Wednesday night) we’ll put names on the pens.”
Jadyn joined the junior fair board at the encouragement of her father, Jake Yinger, who is a member of the senior fair board.
“I’ve been on the fair board for about 10 years,” Jake said. “So when a spot came open on junior fair, I was like, ‘Yeah, you’re gonna do this.’ She was reluctant at first, but she likes it now.”
Jadyn has three siblings who will participate in this year’s fair with her — older brother, Jarrett, 17; younger brother, Spencer, 15; and younger sister, Britten, 4.
The four Yinger kids have cared for their eight hogs since April.
“We get them right after they are weaned, at about 50 pounds,” Jake said.
The hogs grow to be around 275 pounds, and after being trained, Jake said, are known to act similar to pet dogs in terms of obedience.
“Basically, you get them out in the yard and the first couple of times, they run around like they’re crazy,” Jake said. “But because they have so much muscle, they get winded easily, so after about two weeks of coughing and hacking, they’re like, ‘Okay, whatever you want to do; just give me some water and get me back in the barn.’”
“By now, we don’t have to use the whip to get them in the barn,” Jadyn said. “They’ll follow us with just the tap of our hands.”
The Yinger family, as a whole, is very involved in the Shelby County Fair in more ways than one.
“Both (Jadyn and Jarrett show) purebred and crossbred hogs, do FFA projects, (and) woodworking projects,” Jake said.
“My wife (Breezy) handles all the fair board’s social media. It’s a family affair; it consumes a lot of our time.”
The rides were also in place by Wednesday evening and nearly ready to go, according to Michael Reisinger, owner of Michael’s Amusements, a carnival rides company which has provided rides to the Shelby County Fair for just under a decade.
Reisinger, who was born in Cleveland but currently resides in Fayetteville, North Carolina, said he was “born into the business,” as both of his parents worked for several carnivals. He and his wife, Sherry, started Michael’s Amusements 26 years ago.
The company started set up at the fairgrounds on Tuesday, finishing on Wednesday, with ride safety inspections taking place Thursday.
“We have two units working, so we try to move stuff back and forth from year to year to switch things up,” Reisinger said of this year’s ride selection. “The Zero Gravity was new last year and everybody loved it, so we brought that back, and the Hanglider, (which has) always been a big winner here.”
With regular admission, fair-goers get access to rides all day.
“For $9 you get all the rides, all the entertainment,” Reisinger said. “It’s a huge bargain.”
The Shelby County Fair opening ceremonies will be held at noon on Sunday, July 22, at the fairgrounds flagpole. The fair will be open daily through July 28.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825