Fair board clarifies previous meeting statements


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — The Darke County Agricultural Society’s Board of Directors clarified comments made during the board’s September meeting at its meeting on Oct. 4.

The first issue was over a bill that was received for banners. After investigating the issue, Fair Manager Laura Ahrens learned it was for the Gilt and Barrow Shows and they received $4,550 in sponsorship money which more than covers the cost of the banners. Ahrens said more funds are expected to be received.

Representatives from the Swine Committee took exception to the board’s statements at the September meeting that laid blame for the banners on their committee and asked for an apology. “Some of us from the Swine Committee are here because we are asking for an apology. Things were said in the paper that were said here at the last meeting that kind of painted the Swine Committee in a negative light. We’re talking about the sponsorship banners. The Ag Society bills that out,” the committee member said. She also pointed out they had a list prior to their September meeting of who to send the invoices to for the sponsorship banners that were made three years ago. The committee member added, “We didn’t sell anything new.”

All of the banners were part of the Gilt Show. “This has nothing to do with the Swine Committee. You guys raise money for that for the open show because we only get one open show funded by the fair board and that’s the Gilt Show. That’s nothing to do with Swine Committee,” the member said.

Swine Committee members also took exception with the board’s decision to institute a rule on livestock sales without getting a recommendation from the entire junior fair board. Director Brian Rismiller made a motion for a rule to be put in the green section of the book that all junior fair market show exhibitors go through the auction. At the time, Director Jim Zumbrink questioned whether the issue should go through the junior fair board first. The motion was approved.

However, it has since been learned that the issue has not gone through the junior fair board for an official recommendation. The Swine Committee members believe the decision was made off of the recommendation of the three junior fair board members and a couple of livestock sale committee members that were in attendance at the September meeting.

Director Marla Werner reminded those in attendance the senior fair board can overrule the junior fair board because it is a committee of the senior fair board.

Swine Committee members contended the board acted as though they didn’t know what was happening and painted them (Swine Committee) “in a negative light.” The member pointed to an article that appeared in the Daily Advocate/The Early Bird.

“We don’t write the article,” said Werner. The committee person responded, “But it was off of what was said in this room.” “It’s not always accurate. It’s off of their perception,” said Werner. The committee member responded, “So, he didn’t write an accurate statement?” Without stating any inaccuracies in the reporting, Werner responded, “It’s his perception.”

When asked why they made the motion on the recommendation of three junior fair board members that were in attendance, Werner said, “I didn’t realize that it was three people.”

Rismiller said, “I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong by bringing it up. I’m only one vote.”

Director Craig Bowman stated his concern that the auctioneer didn’t take overbids and only the list of sponsors and buyers were read. However, the committee member said a notice was sent out that overbids would be accepted until the Tuesday following the fair. There was also concern the auctioneer didn’t announce that overbids would be accepted.

Many of the changes to this year’s auction were a result of the extreme heat experienced at the fair and the recommendation of the fair veterinarian to send some of the species home before the auction.

The Swine Committee member concluded with, “We got bad publicity that we don’t deserve. So, we do appreciate an apology.”

None of the board members individually, or as a whole, made an apology during the meeting.

The Greenville Greater Ministerial Association (GGMA) also addressed the board with their concern that a rule prohibiting them from giving out water to fairgoers, which was passed in 2019 but, according to the GGMA, never communicated to them or the Spiritual Life Center committee. The board shut down their distribution of water at this year’s fair.

Doug Klinsing, chairman of the Spiritual Life Center Committee, said, “This was the first time we knew anything about the decision. We were informed that we were not permitted to distribute water, drinks, or food because there had been a complaint from the vendors. There was on the record a 2019 board decision that only vendors could distribute water, drinks, food; so, we were asked to stop doing so. We were happy to comply, but unhappy with the timing of the decision.”

Klinsing asked the board to reconsider their decision. “Give us freedom to minister to people that come through the fair in the way that we have been accustomed to doing so,” he said. Klinsing added that if they are unable to minister in this way, he has already heard from one church that will not return. “We feel we’ve been unfairly treated,” he said.

Werner said, “The bottom line is, where it starts, without saying who’s who as a vendor, people pay to sell water. They pay for a vendor’s spot. They pay for whatever we approve for them to do on that spot; that’s what we hold them to. They pay for their spot.” She added, “We don’t allow the guy selling ink pens to sell food or water.”

Ahrens noted they have a vendor that has a water cooler and that is acceptable because the visitor is just getting a cup of water.

It was suggested the GGMA have a contract with the fair in order to give water away. The cost would be $75. Rismiller said, “I hate to charge you for anything because what you are doing is outreach, but we have to do that.”

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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