Fair moves forward with inclusiveness


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — The Darke County Fair Board is moving forward with making the fairgrounds more inclusive for people with disabilities. It was previously reported that the Darke County Agricultural Society received a grant of over $100,000 from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities to make changes to the fairgrounds that will allow persons with disabilities access to more areas of the fair.

The need to be more inclusive began a few years ago when the directors began offering sensory friendly hours for rides and games at the fair. Prior to the 2023 fair, the fair board stepped up and agreed to establish a room in the Red Cross building to host an adult changing table. On opening day of the 2023 fair, the current Junior Fair Queen and King Elizabeth Brewer and Andrew Wuebker announced their Fair for All campaign to give persons with disabilities better access to the fair. Brewer uses a wheelchair and understands firsthand how difficult it is to navigate the fairgrounds for individuals with mobility issues. That campaign led to the fair receiving the grant.

At the April 3 meeting of the Darke County Agricultural Society’s board of directors meeting, Director Marla Werner, who has spearheaded the efforts for the board, shared they will be able to pave additional areas around the barns because the estimate came in lower than expected. The board agreed to pave the drive south of the Sheep and Goat Barns and a path east of the rabbit barn. There is also a possibility that a portion of the drive between the Sheep and Goat Barns could be paved, but they would need to be careful about the pitch in order to make sure water will drain away from the barns. There will also be enough funds available to provide paved access to the Red Cross Building.

Werner also announced they are moving forward with remodeling the Red Cross Building. The board previously announced they received grant funding to install a permanent adult changing table, but the board is taking it a step further and is also creating a sensory friendly room in the building.

Werner announced Wednesday that the construction project is coming together. The Greenville Career Technology Center’s carpentry class is helping with the project and has already been working on demolishing parts of the inside. Because there will not be enough time to finish the project before the end of the school year, Brumbaugh Construction has agreed to work with the students. Werner said Brumbaugh Construction offered to assist the students with developing the drawings and will work alongside the students to complete the project. She believes this will allow the construction company an opportunity to see the students in action and could possibly lead to some summer internships. Brumbaugh Construction will finish the room prior to the 2024 fair.

The Versailles Interior Design Class is currently working in groups to offer suggestions on what they can do to make the room sensory friendly. Tonya Clark, superintendent of Darke DD, is spearheading this part of the project. Werner and Clark will hear the presentation from the groups to learn what they can do in that room.

Werner reminded the other directors that this project is paid for through the grant.

In other business, the fair will have to decide soon on what type of skid loader they want for the upcoming fair. Bids were read at the March meeting, but a decision was put on hold because of the caretaker’s suggestion that the current brand and model was difficult to see out of and was more dangerous to drive with people around, especially at the fair. The fairground currently has a New Holland skid loader. A motion was made to purchase another New Holland skid loader from North Star Implement, which was the lowest bid, but the motion failed with a 4-6 vote. Dave Singer, Werner, Curtis Yount, Craig Bowman, Christoph Keller and Dean Neff voted against the motion with Russ Skaggs, Jim Zumbrink, Greg Pearson and Apollo Perez voting in favor. A second motion was made to purchase a John Deere skid loader from Koenig Equipment. That motion failed with a 5-5 vote. Zumbrink, Bowman, Keller, Perez and Pearson voted against the motion, and Neff, Yount, Werner, Singer and Skaggs voted in favor. Director Heidi May was absent.

Because of the length of time it takes to get a skid loader, there is a possibility that if the board does reach a consensus on which skid loader to purchase that it would not be delivered in time for the fair. Fair Manager Laura Ahrens asked the board if they wanted to rent a skid loader for the 2024 fair because they have to have two skid loaders. In past years, the board purchased a new skid loader in the spring, received the new skid loader the week before the fair and traded in the old skid loader after the fair. No additional action was taken.

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

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