While most Highland County Fair activities have already wrapped up, anyone that didn’t their fair food fix this year will be able to solve that problem Friday.
Fair Board President Mark Baldwin said there will be no charge for entry Sept. 11 and that people will be allowed to drive onto the fairgrounds if they want to grab something from any of the vendors that agreed to stay open another day.
“They won’t be able to drive up to the booth, but they can drive onto the grounds from Fairground Road,” Baldwin said. “We’re doing this for the vendors. They’ve had a stressful year with everything cancelled, and they were kind enough to come and help us out, so we’re going to help them out.”
The plan is for vendors to be open from about 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., but Baldwin said they’ll likely stay later if they’re busy.
With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the fair to Jr. Fair activities, camping and some vendors only, Baldwin said it’s been an interesting year.
“You try to think about what a normal fair is, but right now we don’t know what normal is,” Baldwin said. “The shows went excellent, and all the Jr. Fair exhibitors got to exhibit, so that’s the main thing. We’re here to promote youth and agriculture, and we’ve tried the best we can to make both of those work this week.”
In another change this year, the live auctions that produce hundreds of thousands dollars annually for the exhibitors were eliminated. Instead, buyers were invited to the fair from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to pledge donations to the exhibitors. The fair gate on John Street was open so buyers could drive up to the Wharton Building where the exhibitors’ names were laid out on tables in alphabetical order.
For anyone that was unable to make it Thursday but still wants to make a donation, they can call, email, or drop off the “add-on form” that was mailed to previous supporters until Friday, Sept. 18. Anyone with questions can call 937-402-3131 or email [email protected]
No single day admission tickets were available this year, and Baldwin said the fair took a financial hit as it tried to abide by state mandates limiting attendance. He said the fair board tried to cut costs where it could, but there were still expenses, and the board’s primary source of annual income was mostly lost.
“But you know, the main thing is, we chose this route because it’s all about doing something for the community and the kids,” he said. “It may not be the best choice financially, but it was the right thing to do.”
To raise some extra money, Baldwin said that for the second year in a row a Highland County Fair Fall Camp Out will be held Oct. 1-3 at the fairgrounds. He said there will be a costume parade, games, a chili contest and a pumpkin decorating contest.
The cost is $100 if paid 10 days before the event and $120 after that. For details call Wayne Bowman at 937-403-2033.
Baldwin thanked everyone who volunteered their time to help at the fair.
“We’re all trying to make sure we do what we can,” he said. “Without the volunteers, big or small, this thing would not work, whether it’s the media or the person that just says I’ll come and and pick up some trash.”
The number of exhibitors at the fair was down, and Baldwin said 4-H and FFA numbers are also down.
“There are all kinds of reasons we could put it to, whether people didn’t want to get out or for financial reasons,” he said. “It could be COVID or people just getting out of it. Time will tell, I guess.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.