GREENVILLE — The Darke County Fair Board considered new state fire code regulations, amendments to its constitution and other concerns at its monthly meeting Wednesday night.
Greenville Township Emergency Services members Brian Wilson and Aaron Ward addressed the board at May’s meeting about new regulations that went into effect in December, including requirements that tents, food trucks and other structures remain at least 10 feet apart.
Ohio State Fire Marshal Jeff Hussey added a variance to the new fire code specifying that food trucks can be parked a mere 2 feet apart, but until recently the 10-foot distance between trucks and other structures remained in effect. The earlier variance was added in response to a letter sent to the fire marshal by Amanda Sines, a member of the Ohio Fair Managers Association, claiming these new requirements would have an adverse effect on county fairs throughout the state.
Greenville Township Fire Marshal Brian Wilson told attendees at Wednesday’s meeting that yet another variance had been approved, allowing county fairs to operate according to the previous regulations for one more year. The variance expires Aug. 26, Wilson said, and only extends to the fair itself. Any other events held at the fairgrounds will still have to observe the new regulations.
“For the state of Ohio, this whole first year [under the new regulations] is going to be a learning curve,” Wilson said.
Wilson suggested that the best course of action for this year’s fair would be to set everything up as normal and figure out which areas are going to be cause for concern next year.
Board members approved a project by the Darke County Cattleman’s Association to remove 8 inches of gravel from the cattle showroom and replace it with a new limestone and sand mix that will be easier on the animals’ feet. The work would be done at no cost to the fair board and is scheduled to begin this weekend. The board approved the project by unanimous vote.
Fair manager Brian Rismiller briefly showed off the new Darke County Fair smartphone app, which includes maps, event schedules and a portal for purchasing tickets. The project to have an app developed was spearheaded by Rismiller, new fair board member Thomas Shaw and Junior Fair member Faith Wilker.
Board members voted in July to allow dog department exhibitors to move from their deteriorating facility on the fairgrounds into a large show tent. Goat department exhibitors were given permission to expand into the old dog barn in the event that record numbers of hog exhibitors pushed them out of the overflow area usually shared by the two departments. At Wednesday’s meeting, goat department representatives asked if they also could move into a show tent and if the fair board would pay for the tent, as they had agreed to do for the dog department exhibitors. Board members voted to approve the motion.
Finally, the board considered amendments to its constitution that would serve to help the county fair qualify for 501(c)(3) status, which would allow the fair to be considered a tax exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service. The board voted to hold a special meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to consider the amendments.