MEDINA — The Medina County Fair isn’t just a weeklong event for 30 county residents and their families. For the fair’s board of directors, this week is the culmination of 51 weeks of preparation.
“It never ends. There’s always something going on, something to do,” said Denise Gerspacher, who’s been a fair board director for 12 years.
There’s board meetings, committee meetings, fair conventions and prep work before the fair starts in early August.
“If you don’t have it done then, you’re in trouble. You’re playing catch-up,” she said.
Directors represent the county at-large or one of the cities, villages or townships. They’re elected to three-year terms by members of the Medina County Agricultural Society during the fair. Voting takes place today for 10 board members whose terms expires this year.
Each director serves on at least three or four of more than 50 committees, Gerspacher said. Committees plan events like the motocross and tractor pulls. They oversee the board’s finances. They deal with food and ride vendors. There’s even a committee to assign committee memberships and one to manage the more than 30 golf carts that directors use around the fairgrounds.
“You can’t be an expert of the whole fair. You’re an expert of the areas you work in,” Gerspacher explained. Her areas of expertise include the beef and home departments.
However, the directors aren’t alone in their respective areas of expertise. Each director’s spouse or significant other serves as an official. They don’t have a vote in board meetings, but they can participate in discussions and serve on committees.
Directors’ children and grandchildren also can help with the various fair duties.
“It’s a family affair. It really is,” Gerspacher said.
Directors definitely need help during fair week, Gerspacher explained. She said every loose end needs to be tied and every potential problem needs to be foreseen.
Directors walk through the show barns and make sure everything is in place. They pick up trash. They direct traffic. They set up chairs for the concert. They record results of livestock shows. They oversee fair entry judging.
Gerspacher said she learned quickly the wide-ranging duties in her first year as a director. She said that’s when she heard on her two-way radio, “A fair director is needed at the bathrooms. Bring a shovel.”
One fair director, Brian Maxwell, described fair week: “Tiring, very busy, very on the go.”
But he said it’s all worth it because it’s part of something bigger.
“It’s a tradition, a family tradition,” he said. This is Maxwell’s first year as fair director, but his father, Jack Maxwell, served as a director for years. He said he’s spent plenty of summers at the fairgrounds, making sure everything goes smoothly.
Director Dave Ehrman also comes from a fair family.
“We grew up here showing dairy cattle. I went through 4-H. I wanted to keep being involved somehow and this is the next step,” he said.
There’s even more to it, director Conrad Haneberg explained. It’s an opportunity to help others.
“When I give some crying kid a ride ticket when her mother can’t afford it, that’s what it’s all about,” Haneberg said. “I don’t mind all the manure. I just like helping people.”
On Sunday, the fair will come to a close and the week’s hustle and bustle will be over.
“It’s almost a day of withdrawal the day afterwards. It’s almost a letdown,” Gerspacher said.
But, it doesn’t last long, she said.
“As soon as fair’s over, it’s not over. You start getting ready for next year,” she said.
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.