CIRCLEVILLE — The 75th Annual Pickaway County Fair is now open.
The senior fair board welcomed the public in Sunday night with the opening ceremonies.
The outgoing queen, Ambrosia Havan, spoke briefly and introduced 2020 Fair Royalty Queen Gracieanne Gray, King Jacob Hawkes, Queen’s Attendant Kayla Bowens and King’s Attendant Cody Hunt.
Gray thanked the visitors of the fair and said it was an honor to be chosen.
“I feel so loved,” she mentioned. “I wanted to thank the senior fair board for the fact that we’re having a fair. This is a wonderful opportunity.”
Christy Pence, fair board secretary, gave a brief history of the fair and the history of the grounds now known as the Pickaway County Agricultural and Events Center before handing things over to Fair Board President Von Cremeans.
Cremeans spoke about the journey the fair board took to make the fair happen. He began by asking for a standing ovation for the fair board.
“It’s been a challenging year and I’m just glad we’re all here and not trying to show our animals on Zoom, we’re not sitting in an opening ceremony on Zoom,” he stated. “There are so many people that helped us with this and we sat and we planned for hours upon hours to make sure the kids got what they wanted, to show their animals at the fair.”
Cremeans said the board had a plan B, but refused to announce it.
“I knew that we were going to get something done, and we did,” he remarked. “We passed the fair on June 8 that looked really hard to do, but everyone was going to get to come and then on June 9 at 5:15, they said we could have a full fair with no livestock restrictions of 72 hours. I called all my committee chairs and asked if they were in for it…they said let’s do it, so here we are.”
Cremeans acknowledged things were a little different this year than they have been traditionally but that it was all done in an effort to have the fair and to be a good example for other fairs around the state.
“We’re happy to stay away from one another,” he added. “If some kids get yelled at by the senior fair board for it, know we’re doing it so other kids can have the same opportunity as you guys.
If we don’t, something could come from the governor’s office and say something different. We don’t want to be the only fair in the state.”
Cremeans, saying the Pickaway County Fair was the first in Ohio, drew some cheers when he shared his thoughts.
“We’re the best fair in Ohio, we’re not the worst anymore,” he commented.
The Pickaway County Commissioners, Brian Stewart, Harold “Champ” Henson and Jay Wippel all took a turn to speak.
Stewart reflected on the 2019 fair, the first under the newly constructed site and how things have changed in that year.
“Four months ago, nobody expected we’d be dealing with a global pandemic,” Stewart said. “I hope next year is easy and it’s not locusts and frogs or anything like that and we can have a nice easy and normal fair. Congratulations to the fair board, junior fair board, FFA and everyone who’s worked on this. We’re thrilled to have a full fair and to show the rest of Ohio what a full fair can look like, even with these challenging times.”
Henson said the last few years of the fair have had a lot of challenges, including uncooperative weather.
“I’m so very proud, we’re all very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” he added. “I’m a lot more proud today than I was last year. I’m proud to live in a community where we sing the national anthem and mean it. I’m proud of everyone that worked on this. It would have been very easy to say we’re not having it and a lot of people would have taken that easy way. We’ve got a fair board that’s a little bit stubborn and I like stubborn. I’m proud to be here and I hope you have as much fun as you can.”
Wippel said he spoke with Cremeans almost daily after the 2 p.m. press conferences with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, then Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Action and more.
“Every day, after the ‘Wine with DeWine’ press conference, Von and I would speak and we’d see if he mentioned anything about the fair,” he said. “We tried to prepare because we know it’s worth it to have all the young folks here at the fair. That’s what it’s been about. We were going to do our darndest to have a fair this year. It’s a great community place and there will be a lot of memories here.”
Following the commissioners addressing the crowd, State Representative Gary Scherer and State Senator Tim Schaffer addressed the crowd and presented the fair board with $50,000 to be used by the fair board.
“(Ohio House of Representative Speaker of the House Larry) Housholder got very much down in the weeds of negotiating to have a full fair that we had,” Scherer said. “It took a lot of effort to get where we are.”
Scherer, echoing statements from the other speakers, said the eyes would be on Pickaway County this week.
“There’s going to be naysayers that are going to look for some problem or something to go wrong,” he mentioned. “(Obeying the rules) is important, whether we personally believe they’re that important or not, because they’ll affect other fairs in the state.”
Shaffer said with the eyes of the state on Pickaway County, the community would “show them how to do it right.”
“We will show the world what a great job Pickaway County does with their fair and what we can do when we’re smart about things,” he concluded.