ASHTABULA COUNTY, Ohio — This content is part of our 88 Counties in 88 Days coverage, which focuses on the current issues Ohioans are facing in this election year.
At this time of year, the Ashtabula County fairgrounds would be prepped for people to flood the gates to enjoy entertainment, food and rides. It’s a different story this year, as the decision to move forward with a junior fair only was made before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement requiring fairs to cancel completely or become junior fairs.
“We were 100 percent ready to cancel it all, and you know that kept us up at night” Brian Edelman, Ashtabula County Fair Director, said. “It’s been a really stressful time.”
Edelman said small businesses bring in more than $100,000 in sponsorships, but this isn't the case this year. As small businesses are already struggling due to COVID-19, fair board members felt it wasn’t right to ask them for money.
Ashtabula County thrives on agriculture, and its residents look forward to showing the skills and tricks they’ve prepared for the fair.
“This is so important to our families and our youth because this is what they worked hard for all year,” said Jenna Hoyt, the Extension Educator for 4-H Youth Development in Ashtabula County. “This is when they really get to shine and show everything that they've learned for over the year, or over the 10 years that they've been in 4-H.”
The fair is very important for young people in the community. Especially for xxx, Ashtabula County fair queen, who said representing and showing how much she loves the county is an honor.
“Fair means everything, I mean you work so hard for just one week,” Kayla Lindberg said. “Just knowing that they were able to put on something for us, it may only be short, just know that like we’re doing what we can now so that we can have a full fair next year.”
To make sure the show goes on this year many fair board members are donating their pay to help give back to the fairgrounds.
“But many of our fair board members, Brian, and others are really stepping up to the plate doing everything they can and giving even their last dollar to be able to make sure that we could continue to maintain these grounds and have a junior fair this year,” Kayla Lindberg said.
But COVID-19 isn’t putting a damper on Edelman’s plans for the future.
“From today on we’re actually planning for next year's fair already,” Edelman said. “You know, hopefully everything will come back to normal and we can have the biggest, best fair next year that we possibly can.”