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Ohio Fair Managers Association- Still going strong after all these years

2/1/2017

By Mary Weber

Photo courtesy of Ohio's County Journal

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The 92nd Annual Ohio Fairs Convention "It's All About Youth" was held January 5-8 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Columbus, Ohio. Nearly 4,000 people were in attendance including  1855 Senior Fair Board members, 1292 Junior Fair Members, 642 Associate members and a full agenda of speakers. The 2017 Ohio Fairs Convention also held the largest trade show in the convention's history: 136 tradeshow spaces were sold ranging from acts and entertainers to goods and services provided by companies working with events.
 
The Ohio Fair Managers Association is a voluntary, not-for-profit corporation, serving State, Independent and County Agricultural Fairs, shows, exhibitions, and several festivals within Ohio. The associate members of the OFMA are associations, corporations, festivals, and individuals engaged in prPhoto By Ohiooviding products and services to its fair members, all of whom are interested in the improvement of Ohio's agricultural fairs. 
 
Alfred Putnam Sandles was Ohio's eleventh Secretary of Agriculture. He helped organize the Ohio Fair Managers' Association around 1922 and Myers Cooper was the First President of the Ohio Fair Managers Association. During the early years of the OFMA, the emphasis was largely on education and agriculture expositions.  Throughout the years, the OFMA has remained true to its purpose of promoting and encouraging the development and improvement of agricultural fairs, shows, and expositions. The OFMA is actively engaged and supports the International Association of Fairs and Expositions as well as the Federation of State and Provincial Association of Fairs.
 
The objectives of the Ohio Fair Managers Association are as follows: To represent and promote the general welfare of the County, Independent and State Fairs of the State of Ohio; to encourage closer cooperation among the fairs of Ohio; to promote Agriculture and its related fields to fairs and their customers; to provide for the annual meeting or convention of all fairs, associated groups and businesses at least once each year; to promote cooperation among all agricultural related educational and commodity organizations; and to follow the Established 990 Practice of the OFMA Board.
 
Bob Buxton of Warsaw, OH is heading into his second year as President of the Ohio Fair Manager's Association. Dan Bullen of Xenia, OH is serving as 1st Vice President, and Rodney Arter of Croton, OH is 2nd Vice President. The board is also composed of a Treasurer, Executive Director, and Representatives from the 9 districts in Ohio; Bob Dawson of Painesville, OH serves as Treasurer and Howard Call of Stow, OH is the Executive Director. The 9 Ohio districts have the following representatives: 
 
District 1: Richard King of Rising Sun, OH
District 2: Tom Higbie of Jenera, OH 
District 3: Wade Flory of New Lebanon, OH
District 4: Chris Brust  of Beaver, OH
District 5: Tom Stocksdale of Wooster, OH 
District 6: Roger Smith of Johnstown, OH 
District 7: Stanley Strode of Chesterhill, OH 
District 8: John Ackerman of Woodsfield, OH  
District 9: Paul Harris of Chagrin Falls, OH
 
One of the highlights of the 2017 Ohio Fairs Convention was the induction of five new members into the Ohio Fairs Hall Of Fame on January 8th, 2017. Allan Hess of the Clarke County Far, Donald J. Stauffer of the Ashland County Fair, Dough Guinsler of the Muskingum County Fair, Robert Nash (associate member inductee), and Sheriff Dan McClelland (associate member inductee). 
 
In addition to Hall Of Fame Inductions, the Ohio Fair Association handed out a total of 60 communication awards to 32 different Ohio fairs. Some of the highlights include: Athens County Fair won the Best Themed Advertising Program and Cuyahoga County Fair which won the award for the best Fair Premium book cover. Crista Wortkoetter was selected as the 2017 Ohio Fairs Queen; she was chosen from a group of 79 Ohio County and Independent Fair Queens. Roger Crawford gave an inspiring keynote address: "How High Can You Bounce?" for all of the convention attendees. 
 
Along with round table discussions and sessions, position-specific meetings were held for members of fair boards across Ohio. Secretaries had the opportunity to attend a meeting entitled: Procurement Procedures and Bidding For Fair Boards; The Treasurers Meeting was called: Managing the Operations and Finances Of Capital Projects; The Presidents and Vice-Presidents forum was about managing their organizations and covered agenda prep, financial overview and budget, and day to day controls. The seminar was useful in determining what duties are expected of fair leadership and how duties and responsibilities are handled across a broad range of events.
 
Throughout the convention, 95 total senior fair round table discussions and workshops were held for convention attendees. The most popular of the workshops were the fair officers training workshop and the livestock quality assurance meetings which were held January 5th-7th. 
 
In addition to senior fair round tables and workshops, 34 junior fair sessions were set up by the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service; junior and senior fair members were invited to participate in the junior fair sessions on Saturday, January 7th. 
 
According to Howard Call, Executive Director of the Ohio Fairs Association, some of the issues that were addressed at the convention and during the round tables are H2B visa concerns involving food, game, and ride operators and EPA and OSHA becoming more visible, making it necessary for fair members and staff to be ever more vigilant when dealing with safety and workplace regulations. Overall, Call says that there are not really any major dangers facing Ohio fairs and with information sharing and seminars such as those presented at the OFMA meeting, many of the day to day difficulties can be worked through as an organization.

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