A lot of kids visit the Trumbull County Fair in Bazetta with plans of guzzling lemonade, watching trucks get crushed and taking a ride on the Scrambler. For a group of about 20 teens on the Junior Fair Board, though, the week is about agriculture, and it takes a lot longer to prepare for than tying on a pair of sneakers.
There is a lot riding on their shoulders but they're taking the stress and preparation in stride. This year's board is thinking big - bringing in technology, setting up their own entertainment stage, hosting a plethora of competitions and even sponsoring a grandstand performance.
"I've got a group this year that's very tight. If one starts a sentence, another three can finish it," said Jan Solomon, Junior Fair Board coordinator.
Trumbull County Fair employee Steve Perhach moves picnic tables into place Wednesday around the Trumbull County Fairgrounds.
Photo by R. Michael Semple
The fair opens Tuesday. On Friday, board members Santino DeFalco, 15, of Brookfield, Katie Yoho, 18, of Leavittsburg, and Colleen Horstman, 17, of Southington, gathered in the small Junior Fair Board office building, tying up any loose ends.
"I think we're ready," DeFalco said.
Junior Fair Board members must be between the ages of 13 and 18 and be a member of 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or another approved group.
Fair amount of paperwork
By MARGARET THOMPSON
BAZETTA - Prepping the livestock, hauling in the rides, setting up midway games and ... collating the entry forms.
Though often unseen, the amount of organization it takes to keep the Trumbull County Fair running smoothly can be as daunting as the physical setup.
It's a fact that one group of women knows all too well.
They handle about 200 vendors, 735 animal class entries, 776 non-animal exhibits (everything from jars of jam to quilts), and 170 camping ground spots. Not to mention all the daily admission passes - but those come Tuesday.
In the month leading up to the fair, the women have been plowing through the paperwork to keep all the entries organized.
"We're a little family. I call them my fair family," said Nicole Chiarella, 28, one of the women in the office.
Her day job is as a nurse, but on her days, off she's in the fair office helping oversee all the entries, a job she picked up 10 years ago when she was just out of high school looking for a summer gig.
"We meet everybody," Chiarella said.
In front of her desk at the C Gate is the window where the women register the camping sites and hand out entry packets.
"It's like every single exhibitor has to have a ticket for every single entry for every single animal...," said Darla Slater, 61, of Champion.
Slater said this is her first year helping out. She was brought on by Chiarella, her daughter. Animal and non-animal entry forms were gathered from April 15 to June 22. Now the women are getting their fair packets set, with a tag for each entry along with an exhibitor pass.
"You wouldn't believe what we do here," said Sandy Antonelli, 58, of Bazetta, as she sorts through a pile of vendor packets. "And we try to keep everything kosher with guidelines for safety."
There's also the matter of tranquillity, as evidenced by the brightly colored flags on a large map indicating concessionaire spots.
"You don't want to put a corndog stand and a corndog stand together," Chiarella said.
Many returning vendors are given their usual slot while the new ones are sifted in between. Their contract applications need to be approved by the board and then they are given electricity permits and camper spots if requested.
Getting everything together takes a massive amount of organization and teamwork, but come Tuesday with the fair's opening, they'll be ready to go. Of course, then they'll have tens of thousands of daily attendance tickets to process.
Yoho joined 4-H Trumbull County Equestrians nine years ago and after becoming president of her club decided she should get involved more. For the last two years, she's been secretary of the board.
"We really start preparing in May," she said.
This year, the board updated its system for ticketing to computers. Any of the 300 to 400 4-H members who attend the fair will be filtered through the Junior Board's hands, DeFalco said.
DeFalco is a five-year member of the Brookfield 4-H Friends and joined the Junior Fair Board four years ago. "I started with a hamster ... then I went to poultry," DeFalco said. Now he's vice president.
The board also is pioneering a Junior Fair Stage, where it will host a talent competition along with other entertainment.
Handling entertainers is one of the big stresses for the board. This year they are sponsoring Redhead Express and helping with the Senior Fair Board's Savannah Jack performance.
Yoho and Horstman were invited to a class in Columbus to learn how to increase ticket sales through hosting entertainment.
Horstman said she joined 4-H in Wisconsin six years ago. After moving to Ohio three years ago, she joined the Junior Fair Board and Trumbull County Best Shepherds. Now she's the Junior Fair Board treasurer.
Beyond the fun and entertainment, the fair is all about agriculture for the group.
"All of the animals are off of some sort of property. Whether its a barn or a small farm, it is some form of agriculture. Theses are kids raising animals for people to eat. They are our future farmers," Yoho said.
Horstman said she shows "basically every animal except horses and cows," while Yoho shows horses and DeFalco sticks mainly to poultry. They are their own future farmers and seem to have grown up quickly through their experiences on the board.
Solomon, 64, of Lordstown, has been the Junior Fair Board coordinator for 16 years.
"I realized after three or four years as the Junior Fair Board coordinator that it's one of the best learning labs," she said. They learn budgets, people skills, and how to maturely respond to situations that don't go as planned.