By Kristin Rover
The excitement of the demolition derby, thrill of the rides, enjoyment of the 4-H competitions, and the taste of the food are what visitors experience one week each year during Clermont County Fair, but behind the scenes, the fair is a huge undertaking that keeps organizers busy year-round.
“It is a year-round thing,” Todd Slone, fair board member and former president, said about the process. “Once the fair is over you start planning for next year.”
Slone said planning and preparation happens all year, but really begins ramping up in the month of July each year.
“Two weeks before the fair they bring in the maintenance crew,” Slone said.
Slone said the crew helps get the barns ready, sets up bleachers, makes sure everything is clean, sets up the restrooms, and more.
Slone said in the days leading up to the fair, tents get set up, food trucks start to arrive, and vendors begin setting up their displays.
Dave Williamson, fair board member, helped set up the 4-H food booth this year, which is the main fund raiser for 4-H.
Williamson said preparing for the booth to open includes cleaning, waiting for food delivery, and setting everything up.
Bill Philput, with OKI, set up the sound system for the 2014 fair.
Philput said it takes about four days to get all of the speakers set up and the sound system working.
Inside the fair board office, Jan Schoellman, office manager, barely gets time to talk between answering phone calls in the days leading up to the fair.
When she’s not attending to questions from people calling in, Schoellman is working on entries, updating the website and social media pages, getting the judges books ready, issuing permits, and more.
“There’s so much that goes in and out of this office,” Schoellman said.
Slone said the biggest transformation before the fair is from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
He said all of the show animals arrive Friday and Saturday night, the rides are set up, and everything is ready to go for opening day on Sunday.
“I would say Saturday night is the most exciting,” Slone said. “Everything is in place.”
And during the fair, the work continues.
Boy Scout Troop 741 cleans up trash around 6 a.m. every morning during the fair, according to Slone.
Volunteers and fair board members are constantly running around collecting and delivering results, preparing arenas, and helping people get where they need to be.
And Saturday night as the fair comes to a close, the process reverses.
“The rides are gone by Sunday morning,” Slone said.
By the following week Slone said the fairgrounds become sadly empty.
Clermont County Fair Board President Bill Scharber said it takes up to a month to get the grounds back to normal after the fair.
“It is a task preparing the grounds and disassembling at the end,” Scharber said.
He said none of it would be possible without volunteers and the different organizations that help.
By the time everything is cleaned up, Scharber said they are already planning for next year.
“At our next meeting we’ll have the final numbers in and we’ll review what we need to do different and keep the same,” Scharber said.
For more information about the Clermont County Fair, visit www.clermontcountyfair.com.