Holmes County Sr. Fair Board honors its volunteers at annual banquet

Holmes County Sr. Fair Board honors its volunteers at annual banquet

Image Credit: Dave Mast

While the expo center at Harvest Ridge was crowded with members of the Holmes County 4-H volunteers and fair board members on Thursday, Oct. 28, full of individuals who all play their own role in making the annual Holmes County Fair and 4-H programs roll smoothly along, what it really represented was a body of people working as one to make sure the youth of Holmes County have every opportunity to succeed in 4-H and at the county fair. It was people willing to give whatever is necessary to ensure Holmes County 4-H thrives.

The Holmes County 4-H Volunteer Banquet took place at Harvest Ridge Fairgrounds, where the Holmes County Senior Fair Board honored many of its members who have given much this past year and recognized those who had achieved significant milestones in their 4-H careers.

Holmes County Fair Board member Tara Sheldon said throughout the past two years she has met with numerous other fair board members across the state who constantly asked her how the Holmes County Fair Board was experiencing so much success throughout the pandemic and in the following year.

She said the answer is simple.

“It’s the people in this room that allowed us to have a fair,” Sheldon said. “It was a huge undertaking last year to get through mandates, but we made it. In 2021 we got to pretty much back to normal. It was a good year for us.”

Sheldon said the 2021 fair marked the second-highest year of attendance in the fair’s history, and Saturday was a single-day high in attendance.

She said for the third year in a row, the county was tabbed to speak at the Ohio Fair Manager’s Convention annual meeting about how Holmes County integrates a working relationship between the junior and senior fair boards and the extension office.

“We really do have an amazing group, and people are surprised at how well we get along and how we make it all work,” Sheldon said.

On behalf of the Holmes County Extension Office, Janessa Hill presented the 4-H camp awards, but before doing so, she talked about the challenges of the past two years.

“Everybody in this room needs thanked a million times for everything you’ve done and persevered,” Hill said. “Thank you for all of your hard work and understanding. It has been trying for all of us.”

Lisa Lang, president of the Holmes County 4-H Committee, presented several honors throughout 4-H and said after getting through the difficult year of the pandemic and experiencing a return to normalcy in 2021, 2022 should be exciting.

“We’re looking for all of you to do what you can to keep the 4-H spirit wherever you go,” Lang said. “Hopefully we can grow our numbers and have record-breaking success.”

While the board honored its 4-H volunteers by years of service including Regan Miller’s 50 years in 4-H, as well as its senior fair board, junior fair board and 4-H committee members, there were several key awards handed out to people and organizations worthy of being honored by the fair board.

The 2021 Friends of 4-H Award was presented to WKLM, which was represented by Brandyn Benter and Michael Hammond.

“They support the local 4-H clubs on a media level to all of Holmes County,” presenter Ally Ogi said. "They are consistently at 4-H events to share about our youth and upcoming events in our community."

The 2021 Partner of 4-H Award winner was a name very familiar with the Holmes County Fair and 4-H. The board honored Dr. Eric Shaver, the fair’s veterinarian who does far more with 4-Hers than just the fair.

Shaver grew up showing animals at the fair and eventually became entrenched as one of the fair’s go-to people in the animal realm.

“There are many adjectives that describe him,” Ogi said of Shaver, “hard-working, dedicated, compassionate, honest, kind, generous and loving. He is a man of integrity, and for 35 years, he has shown compassion and dedication to the 4-H kids and their animals. He does what is necessary to protect the safety of the kids, their animals and the public coming to the fair grounds.”

Ogi said he donates plenty of time to the kids, is an integral part of the quality assurance team and has traveled to farms to create videos to help 4-Hers with training.

The 2021 4-H Alumni Award was awarded to Erika Schuch, of whom presenter AJ Jones said has been heavily involved in 4-H from a young age. As an adult volunteer, that commitment hasn’t changed.

“There are many things we could say about her and the ways she has given her time and talent over the years to the 4-H program,” Jones said.

Jones said Schuch has taken a leading role in setting up the fair and 4-H’s assurance program, working with Skill-a-thon.

The 2021 Friends of the Fair Award was presented to Marcia Collins. Collins stepped into the role of treasurer after the passing of longtime treasurer Gail Cochran.

Collins, a CPA with Rea & Associates, filled the role capably. Collins has gone above the call of duty in tackling the role, handling the financial duties for the fair board. She also has led the board through its biannual audit.

Marcia Troyer, longtime advisor for Doughty Valley 4-H Club, and Matthew Young, club president, presented a special honor in memory of Cochran, who passed away this year. A longtime senior fair board treasurer, Young said of Cochran, “She was devoted, friendly to so many, always greeting people with a smile but firm in her belief.”

They presented a plaque to her family, and her husband Cary said of the honor, “4-H and the junior fair board are so great for our kids. It teaches them so many things. My wife loved the fair and 4-H, and she loved the kids. I thank you all for standing behind me and supporting me.”

While honored on behalf of Gail, Cary Cochran said it takes a multitude of caring people to make Homes County 4-H and the fair what it is today and spoke about the importance of volunteering, something his wife excelled at.

“Gail loved volunteering, and I know many of you do to, and volunteering is another way of laying down your life for your friends,” Cochran said.

With another year in the books, the Holmes County Senior Fair Board celebrated its ongoing volunteer program and the people who make the fair and 4-H program so successful.