The Great Geauga County Fair opened Wednesday to beautiful weather and a warm welcome from officials both local and from around the state.
The Great Geauga County Fair opened Aug. 31 to beautiful weather and a warm welcome from officials both local and from around the state.
Fair board President Doug Logan said those invited included Lake County Fair officials, as the first fairs were held before that county split from Geauga in March 1840.
Referencing the fact Geauga County has the oldest continuously running fair in the state, Logan reminded the crowd that during the first fair, in 1823, James Monroe — the fifth president of America — was in office.
The fair has continued to run even in times of hardship, Logan said.
“Through pandemics, depressions and world wars, we have rallied to keep the gates open,” he told the crowd.
Even during World War II, the fair carried on, Logan said, reading from a 1942 statement by the fair board acknowledging the great emergency faced by the country, which had entered the war the previous December after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
“All of us will need to give as we have never given before our time, money and loyalty. The board has considered this matter from all angles and has come to an unanimous decision that by going ahead with the fair, they will be contributing to the country’s need for helping to keep up the morale of people and by inspiring them to greater, better production,” the fair board said. “We need the hardy cooperation of everyone in the county to make the 1942 fair another real success.”
Geauga County Commissioner Jim Dvorak offered a prayer to bless the opening of this year’s fair and asked those in the audience familiar with it to say the 4-H pledge along with him.
“Thank you, Lord, for the 4-H program, which is over 120 years old,” Dvorak said. “(It) is a community of young people across American who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.”
Accolades and proclamations rolled in from around the state, including from Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture Dorothy Pelanda, who presented a decorative planter with a commemorative plaque she hoped will last for years to come.
Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), who serves as the ranking member of the Ohio House Agriculture and Conservation Committee, said her 14 years in 4-H as a child sparked her interest in agriculture.
Ohio’s agriculture sector provides jobs that pay well and take advantage of the state’s natural resources, including an abundance of fresh water, Brent said.
“If you talk about what makes Ohio great, it’s agriculture,” Brent said. “The things that we are celebrating today, many people from many states will be coming here (for) tomorrow, because they’re going to need those good-paying jobs in agriculture and they’re going to need the water that we already provide through our Great Lakes.”
Proclamations were presented and congratulations offered from the offices of Ohio Auditor Keith Faber, Treasurer Robert Sprague and from state Sen. Sandra O’Brien, who presented a Senate resolution signed by herself and state Sen. Jerry Cirino, who both represent Geauga County.
Congressman Dave Joyce (R-Russell Township), home from Washington, D.C. as Congress takes its summer recess, took the mic to extoll the virtues of the fair.
“When I was young and moved out here with my parents from the city, we came out here for the first time and it’s the first time we ever got to see animals like this up close,” Joyce said.
While his children also enjoyed seeing the animals, Joyce said the real draw is the milkshakes offered by the 4-H booth.
“That’s something that everybody’s got to get while here, is a milkshake. But the best part of the fair is all of you and the people of Geauga County. And I could tell you, each and every day when I’m working for you in D.C., I remember from where I came from and it’s all good God-fearing people like you,” Joyce said, before presenting Logan with a certificate of recognition. “Please pray for America.”
State Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur (R-Ashtabula) said the fair is a wonderful tradition through which the county can share its industries — like maple syrup production — and agricultural talents with people not only local to Northeast Ohio, but from around the world. She then presented a commendation from the Ohio House of Representatives.
“America is only as strong as her individual communities, which are unique and which make a significant contribution to our state and nation,” she read from the resolution. “The Great Geauga County Fair offers area citizens a venue in which to share their talents and experience, and to reflect on the benefits of life in a close-knit community. For they have built on the traditions of the past to ensure a future filled with hope and promise.”