BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Thousands braved the heat and rain to visit the Lucas County Fair last week at the fairgrounds in Maumee.
“We don’t have all the figures in as of now of course, but Friday was our busiest day with the Tyler Farr concert,” said board member Jodi Flores.
Sunday was the second-largest turnout of the week, with families stopping by the fair to enjoy the offerings before it closed for the year.
A variety of vendors, inflatables from Hero’s Party Experience, rides, games and more were made available for attendees, with members of the board working hard to appeal to a variety of ages and preferences.
Each year, the board outlines a budget for several categories before making the plans, Flores added. It can be hard, planning for the event so far in advance on a strict budget, but, ultimately, it’s worth the process to make the fair an enjoyable experience for the 4-H and FFA students who have worked so hard to make it to the fair, she said.
FFA and 4-H students spent months leading up to the fair preparing their projects before judges and attendees had the opportunity last week to view their displays and animals.
Trista Patterson, a member of The K.I.C.K.S. 4-H club, had all of her hard work pay off after she was recognized as overall showman during the Showmanship Sweepstakes on July 14.
“All the best showmen from each species, they go into this show, so then we compete for first in that and I got overall showman, which I’m really happy about,” Patterson explained.
Brynn Jackson was able to participate in the sweepstakes for the first time, too. Jackson, a soon-to-be fifth-grader, is part of the Silver Spurs 4-H club and said the experience was fun, but she’s not in any rush to get back to a Showmanship Sweepstakes just yet.
Instead, she’d rather focus on working with her horse, Mo, who has helped her learn about the importance of responsibility.
“In 4-H, I’ve learned that my horse is the best,” Jackson joked. “And I’ve learned that I have to work hard.”
Last year, Jackson spent two days a week training with her horse, and this year, now that’s she’s added volleyball and softball to her schedule, her time preparing for this moment was lessened, but when she arrived on the Lucas County Fairgrounds, she knew she had a lot of work to do, practicing with Mo every day in the arena.
For more than a decade, Patterson, too, has learned about the time commitment required to participate in events like fair competitions.
“Through 4-H, I’ve learned responsibility. You have to be responsible for a tiny creature that grows to be a big animal that you have to learn how to control,” Patterson said.
She’s been able to do this alongside her siblings and friends for many years now, creating bonds between the students as each year passes.
“Showing at this fair, since it’s a small fair, we’re all really close. The environment here is what I really like,” Patterson said. “I think the people are my favorite part. Every night, we play soccer together or go play cards. It’s almost like a family.”
With the Lucas County Fair combining urban and rural communities, while remaining smaller than other areas, it creates a unique environment, Patterson noted. It’s an environment she hopes will continue.
That’s also what the board wants, too, Flores said.
Keeping the focus on the students who are practicing their skills in agriculture, technology and more is the purpose of the fair.
While the board is always looking for more ideas from new members, conventions and the public, board members keep the 4-H and FFA students at the focus.
“We do the best we can, but it’s always a work in progress,” Flores said of the fair. “In a couple weeks, we’ll get together, and we’ll go over each thing and then we’ll start all over again for next year. We’re always trying our best for each year.”