By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net
Not long after the rains began on Saturday and the forecast showed no sign of it letting up, the Wayne County Fair Board had to make a difficult call and released this statement.
Based on current weather forecasts and in consultation with Wayne County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Wayne County Sheriff, Wooster Fire Department and the National Weather Service we believe there is a high likelihood that parts of the fairgrounds will flood over the next few days. While we hope that the weather forecast improves, we have been advised, and have concluded that it is in the best interest in safety and property preservation that livestock and other areas within the flood way are evacuated ahead of the need.
This is an unprecedented decision and we realize that there is significant impact to all exhibitors. We ask for your cooperation, patience and calm during this effort. Please follow all directions of Law Enforcement, Emergency Personnel, Fair Board Directors, Fair Staff and Parking Lot Personnel. We have time to complete this process before flooding occurs.
The schedule is based on the areas that flood first and will work to the East if needed.
We are hoping for the best, while planning for the worst to protect our exhibitors and patrons. Since the weather forecast is always changing, we hope that we can avoid cancelling shows on Sunday, as well as the rest of the week. Please stay tuned to the Wayne County Fair Facebook page and Wayne County Fair website (www.waynecountyfairohio.com) for updated information on shows and hopefully, when we can return to the Fairgrounds after the storms and resume our great fair!
Instructions were then given to those with livestock exhibits at the Wayne County Fair about moving them off of the grounds as soon as possible. This included transporting the swine projects to the Richland County Fairgrounds.
Swine – Option 1 – hauled by the Fair Board and Swine Committee to Richland County Fairgrounds this will begin at approximately 3pm today. Option 2 – self transport of animal to Richland County; however, these animals will leave last and exhibitor choosing this option runs the risk of not having the opportunity to leave grounds if a mandatory evacuation is ordered by Wooster Fire Department and Wayne County EMA. Members will be advised of arrangements for further care, showing and sale of their animal. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to utilize the mass transportation option as we are trying to minimize excessive traffic on grounds. If option 2 is selected, enter Gate 1 (Vanover Street) and exit gate 4. If you desire to show, relocate it to the Richland County Fairgrounds as directed by the Swine Committee.
“We had to move the swine because of the location of the barns and we are moving cows out also,” said Matt Martin, Secretary of the Wayne County Fair Board. “The goats, rabbits, poultry and sheep are all staying right here and it’s business as usual for those animals since their barns are on higher ground.”
It wasn’t long after the notice was released by the Wayne County Fair Board that other area Fair Boards began to reach out.
“We received a call from Ashland asking what they could do and then Richland County contacted us and said that their 4-H groups and FFA chapters immediately responded and asked how they could help and they have been great to work with,” Martin said. “You hope you never have to return the favor but if they ever need us we will be there. This is just one of those situations where everybody comes together for the greater good.”
In a matter of hours, barns in Mansfield were ready for exhibitors to move in.
“Our fair has been over for a month now, so we offered up our barns to let them move in,” said Jason Snyder, President of the Richland County Fair Board. “I guess they had a big flood in Wooster in 1969 and they have a sign on one of the buildings that showed the water got about 5 feet high. But to my knowledge this type of action has never been taken.”
“I made a call to our pig committee to ask how many pens we had set up and ready to go and they told me 182,” Snyder said. “Wayne County has 375, so I was thinking we can get two in a pen, but then I found out Wayne County puts one pig in a pen. We decided then to set up our sheep barn and our goat barn to accommodate all of these hogs and early afternoon, we had the barns set up and ready for pigs to come in.”
That help came thanks to a call for action on social media, including the Richland County 4-H page which, after everything was set up, posted:
Within about an hour of the request being put out, over a hundred people showed up to help!! Richland County is awesome!! There is plenty of help but if anyone would like to stop out, you are welcome to see what is going on and check it out. Hogs are still coming in but everything is going smoothly. If anyone is available Monday or Tuesday to help with the show, we will post details of when it is and what is needed and you can let the extension office know if you can help.
“They are planning on having their showmanship on Monday and their market show on Tuesday as scheduled,” Snyder said. “As soon as all of the hogs are loaded in we are going to get the show arena all set up. It’s all for the kids. I would hate to see the kids not be able to show and sell their hogs.
“Our Fair Board and our Committee and this community of Richland County coming together on a really rainy Saturday to do all of this is just absolutely amazing.”
Listen to Ty’s conversation with Richland County Fair Board President Jason Snyder