DARKE COUNTY — The Board of Directors for the Darke County Agricultural Society recently honored employee Ken Coates Sr., who is retiring his position as head caretaker at the Fairgrounds.
Coates was hired in April of 2001 as a mower. He remained in that position for one year, when he was promoted to assistant caretaker and worked under Head Caretaker John Robinson. In 2004, Coates and his wife, Ona, moved into the caretaker residence on the fairgrounds. When Robinson retired, Coates then shared the head caretaker responsibilities with George O’Dell until 2008, when he became head caretaker.
The Fair Board said Coates has been “a great asset” to the Darke County Agricultural Society over the past 15 plus years. He is responsible for the setup and teardown of approximately 300 annual non-fair events as well as the nine-day annual fair that begins the third Friday of each August. Coates supervises a staff of maintenance workers that are also responsible for upkeep of 195 acres, 53 buildings, 20 restrooms, 228 horse stalls and a vast inventory of tools, equipment, pens, cages, tables, chairs and many other items that are used both fair and non-fair time.
Coates can always be found working outside of his normal hours and on weekends. He has a passion for his position and treats everything at the fairgrounds as if it were his own. Coates is truly a “jack of all trades”, as his skills include welding, fabricating, plumbing, carpentering, minor electrical repair and service/repair of all motorized equipment.
The Fair Board said Coates will truly be missed as caretaker because he shows a true passion and love for his work. His hard work and determination shows in all the jobs he works on and Coates is one of the people that helps put the “Great” in The Great Darke County Fair. His last day of work is November 30.