EATON — The Preble County Fair Produce Barn is one of the many buildings on the fairgrounds meant to house projects and highlight individuals’ achievements.
Per it’s name, the Produce Barn is home to farm produce, garden produce, baking projects, junior classes projects, canning, soaps, noodles, and non-profit and commercial booths.
Rachael Vonderhaar and Annette Mann are both on the building committee. Mann said that the building is old and as far back as she can remember it has always been the Produce Barn.
“I don’t know the age of the building,” she said. “They looked into the Historical Society as far as it being a historical building at one point, but I don’t think it fit the qualifications of that. It has to be awfully close. It’s a very old building that needs a lot of repairs and upkeep, but it’s a beautiful building and it adds a lot of character to the fairgrounds and we would hate to see it go.”
Vonderhaar added, the space for the nonprofits is a way to grow a sense of community within the building.
“We offer space to the nonprofits to be able to be in the barn. We feel like it’s a good opportunity since we’re dealing with food products in here and kind of making that connection with the groups in here,” she said. “We have Jacob’s Ladder, which offers backpacks for kids to take home to feed them over the weekend. We have the Preble Roots program, which is new this year in the county to help with marketing and branding of Preble County products — to encourage our bakers to expand what they’re doing and maybe become entrepreneurs.”
Being the home to so many goods, many people interact with the building on a day to day basis. Whether they submit their goods for judging or they’re just passing through, the building gets a lot of traffic.
According to the committee, it’s not in the best shape anymore. They said that the roof leaks, it needs a paint job, the foundation needs checked out, and some of the windows need repairs. They actually held a bake sale on the first day of the Fair, which according to Mann, was a 50/50 program. Half of the proceeds went to the baker and half of the proceeds go to the committee for repairs.
It was actually that bake sale that allowed the last renovations to the building, two years ago. “Two years ago the upright coolers that you see up against the wall, we used the bake sale money and purchased those coolers when Kmart was going out of business,” Mann said. “That was a very good improvement, because the old ones that we had stopped running. We were in desperate need of something.”
As for what the building accommodates, Mann said that entries continue to grow every year and interest is at an all time high, but they are always interested in expanding and getting others involved. “Every year the entries have grown and we want to encourage more entries to come in,” she said. We do everything we can to accommodate the people of the county and get more entries in here. It’s a great way to come in and meet the other people in your county and your community – other farmers, gardeners, and bakers.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH