The Great Darke County Fair is here!

By Vickie Rhodehamel

Arcanum News for the week of Aug. 23, 2021

The Darke County Fair is here! Can you believe another summer is almost over? Do you have your favorites already in a list – places you must visit and food you must try while you are at the fairgrounds? Did you miss the fair last year? The rituals of the end of summer are upon us!

In the long, tried and found true history of Darke County there never has been nor likely ever will be an entity that has drawn the abiding attention of so many untold thousands of people, residents and non-residents alike, as that August augmentation, Darke County Fair Week.

Enjoy the Great Darke County Fair this week — entitled the greatest county fair on earth, this year is the 165th event year. The fair was started in 1852 when Dr. I.N. Gard was named chief executive officer and ably led by such men as George Coover, Alfred Kitchen and Noah Arnold to realize the dream and plan for an agricultural fair for the following year. And so it came to pass that on a Wednesday and Thursday, September 7 and 8 of 1853, Darke County indeed had a fair of its own. Greenville, as the county seat, was selected for geographic reasons and thus the initial fair was held on the grounds immediately east of Garst museum. Franklin Pierce was the 14th president of the United States at the time and since that time we have lived and breathed through the terms of 28 heads of state.

This year’s history of the Great Darke County Fair will experience the 142nd merry-go-round along with the long lines that form every year for that one-time thrill of excitement at the fairgrounds for children of all ages.

Three times since the fair’s 1853 inception the event was completely cancelled: 1862 and 1863 the fair was cancelled because the county was embroiled in pitting brother against brother in the Civil War; and again in 1949 due to the outbreak of polio in the county and surrounding area. Of course, last year in 2020 it was made into a 4-H fair only due to the COVID pandemic.

What’s your favorite exhibit, food, entertainment? Perhaps you have a 4-H’er, band member, or cheerleader you will be supporting or have entered exhibits in the Fine Arts or Domestic Arts, FFA, or one of the livestock barns; whatever your reason for attending the fair, make it one of the best ever! Best of luck to all of the youth exhibitors at the fair, it will be a memory of a lifetime that you will tell your children and grandchildren about in years to come.

While you are there don’t forget to support your local vendors that work the fair. At the fair you might look forward to a lemonade shakeup from Martin’s Old Fashioned Lemonade, an elephant ear from Chuck’s Foods, an apple dumpling from Castine Church or a Farmer Brown and some Just Ice Cream; or just be there to see old friends, enjoy and make some memories. Enjoy the Darke County Fair! What’s your favorite must have to eat? What’s your favorite activity you just have to see? Good luck to all the youth exhibitors, may you win that blue ribbon you have been working so hard for all year!

“The Great Darke County Fair is like a holiday. I look forward to it all year long to go back again and see old friends and savor the food delights! Even though, year after year, we do the same things, it never disappoints.” ~anonymous

“There’s something that feels so all-American about a county fair” ~unknown

“Life is like a county fair, some rides are more fun than others; some are more frightening.” ~unknown

“Life is like a Ferris wheel, with every circle the view changes.” ~Laura Fuller

Vickie Rhodehamel is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her Arcanum community column. She can be reached by calling 937-423-3763, by e-mail at [email protected] Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.