Fair Board begins plans for county fair

By Jeff Shultz

Publisher

The Garvin County Fair Board has set August 20-24 as the dates for the Garvin County Fair.

Fair Board members met for their regular monthly meeting Thursday night and began making plans for this year’s fair.

Returning this year will be fair favorites The Weiner Dog Races, Kids Day at the Fair, the Kiddie Tractor Pull, Petting Zoo and the Cornhole Contest.

Kids Day at the Fair was a huge success last year, with students from schools countywide participating.

Last year Kids Day at the Fair brought in over 1,300 Garvin County elementary students to participate in the educational activities at the fair.

“You couldn’t stir the children with a stick,” said board member Dessie Daugherty.

“The Garvin County Fair was a memorable learning experience for our students,” Lee Elementary School Principal Tracy Felan said. “The kids had such a great time in 2018 and look forward to the next.”

Kids Day at the Fair provided an “outdoor classroom” experience where students were exposed to a variety of topics including the dairy industry, OSU Entomology Department, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program from OU and OSU’s Ag in the Class Room.

“I think Kids Day At The Fair brought the county fair back to what it should be,” said John Edwards, Maysville Elementary School Principal.

Maysville was well represented at last year’s fair, sending students from all six elementary grades.

“Even though we’re a rural community, many of our students are not familiar with the agricultural lifestyle,” Edwards said.

“Kids Day gave them a glimpse of that lifestyle through the various activities at the fair.”

Also returning to this year’s fair will be the OKC Zoo with their hands on educational program and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau will be at the fair with their fire safety program.

Representatives from the Oklahoma Dairy industry will also be at the fair during Kid’s Day.

This year fair board members will be seeking sponsorships for the activities at the fair including livestock entries.

“We need sponsors for each species to encourage more entries, and improve the show,” stated Kim Green, Fair Board President. Fair Board members Jed Dudley and Sam Halverson are looking over guidelines for the livestock show and will report back to the rest of the board next month.

They are partnering with the agriculture instructors in the county to make improvements this year. 

One of the more popular events last year was the Wiener Dog Races. Fair Board members noted there were 26 dogs entered for the races.

According to Cleveland Fair Board Member Richard Peters, last year’s races were “very successful” for a first time race. 

Peters noted that last year’s races attracted dog owners from all over the state and from other states.

“The fair had some quality dogs in their races,” said Peters. “The dog that won the Garvin County Fair race went on to win the Remington Park race and won the state championship race later in Norman.”

The board welcomed new members Debra Arthur, Sam Halverson and Marsha Martin. 

Also, new to the board is Delvia Getman, who is assuming the remaining term of County Commissioner Mike Gollihare. 

Pamela Popejoy began her second term as a fair board member. Popejoy won the only fair board race in the county, defeating Steven Beck for a post in County Commissioner Gary Ayres’ district.

The rich history of the Garvin County Fair began in 1915. Prior to 1915 county fairs had been hindered by the “profit motive.” 

Most fair associations back then collected entry fees from competitors and gate admission from fair-goers. 

In poorer, less populated counties, many families could not afford to participate and those areas were underrepresented in the state fairs.

The Oklahoma Free Fair Law was implemented, allowing county commissioners to operate “free fairs” and use tax money to pay the event’s expenses. The family-friendly, non-profit philosophy enabled more families to be involved. 

In spite of the Great Depression that hit Oklahoma in the 1930s, county and state fairs survived. The law was amended in 1937 and 1947 and again in 2000 and 2002, expanding the system’s funding methods. 

Garvin County’s fair is fortunate to have the support of county commissioners, excise board and businesses and individuals. The Pauls Valley Tourism Board has also lent generous support for this cherished tradition that has been held in their county seat for over 100 years.

“What stood out to me while visiting as many potential sponsors as time allowed, was the positive response to the county fair,” Popejoy commented. 

“There are so many wonderful memories connected to our county fair. Ensuring it’s future is what fair boards are here to do.”