The Ohio Association of Foodbanks recently received a donation of more than 15,000 pounds of processed pork from the Hartford Junior Fair youth livestock auction.

Fairs are finding a way: Hartford Independent Fair

By Matt Reese and Dale Minyo

The Hartford Independent Fair has one of the largest junior fair programs in Ohio and finished up with their “junior fair only” event in mid-August. A junior fair of that size costs quite a bit, but the community really rallied.

“Within 48 hours we raised just over $100,000 $2,000 at a time in sponsorships. There are 57 total names at $2,000 apiece in sponsorship. We started in the hole — $104,000 was the estimated cost for the Hartford Independent Fair to run a junior fair. We are at $114,000 raised. The community just stepped up,” said Steve Jagger, who serves on the Hartford Fair Livestock Sales Committee. “Everybody in the business community wanted to allow the kids to showcase their junior fair projects. We are fortunate here to have some very large shows. We had over 800 rabbits present and over 400 hogs being shown. Everyone in the community just does a phenomenal job here for the Hartford Independent Fair. It is everybody from family farms to businesses to individuals. We cannot say how appreciative we are as a fair. It certainly will allow us the opportunity next year to continue to grow the fair rather than try to dig out of a hole.”

They also found a unique solution for processing the animals.

“This year we knew the packing plants were running at full capacity and running behind on loads for taking the farmers’ hogs. We went at it a different route. We have got 143 hogs that will be going down to Orient and the processing plant at the prison. That food will be ground into 1-pound chubs. We are sending 500 pounds to Ronald McDonald Charities. We are sending 250 pounds up to Recreation Unlimited in Ashley for their camp activities. The balance of it will be going down to Licking County and some will go to the Mid Ohio Food Bank,” said Chip Carpenter, Director for the Hartford Independent Fair. “The challenge with that was that we needed somebody to pay the buyback on all of those. The Englefield Oil Company and Heartland Bank have donated to pay the buyback. The Licking County Farm Bureau is paying the processing for everything going to Ronald McDonald and Recreation Unlimited.

“Our goal was to give back to the community in these tough times. Ronald McDonald charities said 500 pounds of meat would make 4,000 meals. So far the kids are thrilled to know what is happening with their animals this year.”

Michaela Owens is the Hartford Independent Fair Junior Fair Queen. She recently talked with Dale Minyo on his visit to the fair.

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