If you’ve been to the Adams County Fair you’ve probably seen Junior Fair Board members in the barns, around the show ring or working in the office. They are pretty easy to identify, not only because of their matching shirts and smiling faces, but because they are often the ones doing the work to make things happen fair week. In Adams County we are fortunate to have a Junior Fair Board that helps run Junior Fair. They work the make up ring, take over the mic and log weights. You can find them in the office answering questions, on the computer helping finish show bills or in the barns helping our youth move livestock. During fair week they log a ton of hours and do a lot of heavy lifting, but Junior Fair Board is a whole lot more.
Our fair year starts at the October meeting. This is our organizational meeting each year where we welcome new members, fill empty board seats and elect our new officer team. Over the past three years we have grown as a board to now include 36 members from 4-H, FFA, Scouts, FCCLA and SkillsUSA. This diversity in groups and members help make us a stronger board, with each member having different experiences and expertise. Through the fall and winter we work hard to come together as a board, form committees and start planning for fair. Planning means making lots of decisions. Each suggestion that is submitted during fair and through early October is reviewed, discussed and voted on by the Junior Fair Board and their recommendations are forwarded to Senior Fair Board. Our Junior Fair program is truly a youth led organization.
In January we send a delegation of our members to the annual Ohio Fair Manager’s Conference for Junior Fair Day. This is a terrific opportunity for professional development, gathering new ideas and sharing some of our own strengths with Junior Fair Boards from across the state. Members who attend are asked to share with the full board something they learned that could help improve and grow our own county fair. We’ve had some really great ideas, interesting suggestions and a whole lot of laughs come out of this Columbus trip.
As soon as the calendar turns to spring, we start hitting the pavement. Our Junior Fair Board members are responsible for soliciting donations for all those terrific awards we hand out fair week. This involves writing letters, making personal contact with many of the donors, and thanking them for their continued support of the youth in our communities. Spring also brings weigh-ins, tag-ins and clinics. Everything from unloading trailers, to tattooing livestock to recording weights is handled by our Junior Fair Board members and advisors. Again, these events couldn’t happen without those who show up and do the work.
And then we get to fair season. Junior Fair work days have become one of my favorite experiences. In two days we clean, weed, plant, bed, paint and organize everything we can get our hands on. With the help of our Ag teachers, 4-H Clubs and Senior Fair Board, we make sure the grounds are ready and waiting when move in day arrives.
It sounds like a ton of work, right? Well, I’m not going to lie, it is a lot of work. It’s also a whole lot of fun. Most members come onto the board early in their high school career and keep coming back until they age out. During our monthly meetings we work hard, we laugh a lot and we form friendships. You gain leadership experience, conflict resolution, and communication skills. Junior Fair Board is some serious on the job training that you can’t get anywhere else.
If you are interested in joining us on the 2021 Adams County Junior Fair Board, download the application here. Completed applications are due September 1 to the Extension Office or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You must be at least a freshman in high school and active in an Adams County Junior Fair organization to apply. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to Kristy or a current Junior Fair Board member. Hope to see you around the board table!