The GREAT Darke County Fair

By Vickie Rhodehamel

Acanum News

Entitled the greatest county fair on earth, this Friday will be the opening of the 166th Great Darke County Fair; this year’s fair will run from Aug. 19th to the 27th. 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, Sept. 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.

The Darke County Agricultural Society expanded to over 300 members and the fair itself prospered. For the first five years it remained on the present day Garst museum grounds, then moved in 1858 to today’s Oakwood and Oak Street area in southwest Greenville adjacent to the Brethren Home where one can still see a partial outline of the harness racing track in the street curvature. Then came 1870 and by the time the 16th fair moved into view, the third and final grounds move was made when, in 1870, today’s fairgrounds was established.

Three times since the fair’s 1853 inception the event was 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. During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 a Youth/4-H fair only event was held.

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.

But all said and done, what makes this fair special is what really puts the “Great” in Great Darke County Fair…the people. This means from the ticket taker to the board president, from the ride operator the person that sells balls at the Kewpie doll game…from the people who nightly spruce up the grounds, from the perspiring and dedicated board members, to the harness racing drivers and trainers from the snow cones lady to the waffle guy one who could fill pages of tributes. The greatest of them all, however, is when the gates are at long last thrown open to one and all to children of all ages. And that’s exactly what we all are!

While at this years’ Great event you might also visit businesses that have Arcanum roots while you are at the fair, have a lemonade shakeup from Martin’s Old-Fashioned Lemonade, an elephant ear from Chuck’s Foods or Rismiller’s, how about a Farmer Brown and some Just Ice Cream; or maybe you are just there to see some old friends, enjoy yourself and make some memories.

And just like that, once the fair is over classes and fall sports will begin at Arcanum Schools! The 2022-23 sports year will soon be underway! The Arcanum Trojans Athletic Boosters would like to introduce their officers for this upcoming year: Co-Presidents: Mandy Troutwine & Katie Smith; Co-Vice Presidents: Ashley Rose & Ashley Frazee; Co-Treasurers: Antonia Baker & Kelly Beisner; and Secretary: Vickie Martin. The organization wants to say thank you to the 2021-22 officers who put in much volunteer time and effort and achieved many great things for the sports programs at Arcanum: Rachel Fearon, Nicole Pohlman, Jennie McCans, Mandy Ferraro, Lisa Norris, and Dave Denlinger! The Boosters rely on volunteers to help ensure that things run smoothly! Concession and special event help are critical to our success! Please reach out to any of our current officers if you are interested in helping out with the Boosters this year!

The Athletic Boosters would like to thank everyone who has supported their events, the following projects were completed during the past school year because of you: new football uniforms, new middle-school track uniforms, golf bags for the golf team, a coach appreciation dinner, a donation for WOAC Leadership Day, a cheer mat Velcro, payment for track resurface, resurface of the baseball and softball diamonds’ infield dirt, conference champion t-shirts, and team meals! Go Trojans!

On Saturday, Aug. 20, the All 70s AHS Reunion will be held at the Greenville VFW from 7 to 11 p.m. The Greenville VFW is located at 219 N. Ohio Street. If you graduated from Arcanum during the 1970s you are welcome to join in on the fun! There will be snacks, a cash bar, a DJ and plenty of time to reminisce and join in on the fun! No reservations necessary, $12 per person or $20 couple; pay at the door. Questions? Please call Vickie (Troutwine) Rhodehamel at 937-423-3763 or Pam (Shiverdecker) Crawford at 937-564-8626. It’s Reunion Time!

“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