Each January the Ohio Fair Managers Association gathers for it annual convention to discuss exhibitions in warmer days ahead.
“The purpose of the convention is to be educational and it allows directors, especially newer directors, to come and rub shoulders with other fairs around the state. That is how you learn,” said Tom Stocksdale from Wayne County who serves as the District 5 representative on the Ohio Fair Managers Association Board of Directors. “People do not really understand the number of volunteer hours that even local fairs have. If fairs had to pay for everything that happens, they couldn’t afford to operate. So much depends on volunteer hours.”
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels was on hand this year to discuss some of the highlights expected during the upcoming Ohio fair season.
“We continue to look at the youth development opportunities that grow stronger every year. There are 94 different county and independent fairs out there and they tell us that exhibitorship is up. We look forward to expanding those opportunities for young people to find out about responsible food production,” Daniels said. “There are a lot of exhibitors at fairs but we also get a lot of people from town that come out to find out a little bit more about production agriculture. I think our fairs put out a great product that everyone should be proud of. Our fairs still have a strong ag and animal presence and fair managers are working to continue to have a good experience for everyone.”
Part of that positive experience includes the health of both human and animal participants at the fairs. In 2017, there were multiple bouts of influenza in hog barns at fairs that can hopefully be avoided in 2018.
“Some of the things we are recommending, particularly with the influenza aspect of it, is to get the pigs in and out of the fair in 72 hours. All pigs will carry influenza virus and it is important to get them in and have the show and get them out in a 72-hour period. If there are partial terminal shows, get the ones going home back home. It is critical so we can make sure we have a wholesome product going into the marketplace,” said Dr. Tony Forshey, Ohio’s State Veterinarian. “That 72-hour rule is very critical. We’ve dealt with influenza in the past and it is nothing new. We just want to make sure we don’t have that happen this year and get the animals on to market. We also recommend that fairs have hand-washing stations outside all the barns at the fair if they can. People are touching animals and it is critical they use those hand-washing stations. We just need to make sure we handle things properly and enjoy the shows.”
There are some exhibition rules changing in 2018 that should be noted.
“The quality assurance program put on by Ohio State University Extension is required to be done at least 45 days from the exhibition. It depends on what the first exhibition is. If it is the State Fair then it is 45 days prior to the Ohio State Fair,” Forshey said. “We also talked with fair board members about how to make sure to have all the paperwork done and all of the drug use notification forms and those things.”
In addition at the event, Morgan McCutcheon from the Hartford Independent Fair was crowed the 2018 Ohio Fairs’ Queen. Morgan, from Licking County, was chosen from 77 Ohio fair queens. She is the daughter of Jeff and Lisa McCutcheon and a senior at Utica High School. She will be attending Ohio State University in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing.