EATON — The 2019 Preble County Fair saw numerous changes to tradition last week. However, with the fair over as of Saturday, Aug. 3, Preble County Ag Society President Clinnie Stevenson is happy with how those changes went and dubbed the week a success.
The most notable change was most likely the moving of the annual parade from the first Saturday of the fair to the closing Saturday.
At press time, Stevenson said attendance was down in the grandstands for the parade, but he heard there were many families watching the parade from downtown Eaton.
When talking to fair attendees, there seemed to be mixed opinions on the parade, but many believe it should be held on the first weekend to kick off the fair.
Lisa Monnig has a daughter who shows animals in 4-H, so they spent a lot of time at the fair throughout the week.
“For the most part, I think all the changes have been positive,” she said. “I think the parade is better on the first day. I just think it is a good opening to the fair.”
Mark Elliott noted, the change to the parade was “different,” but seemed like it was made for good reasons.
“From my understanding, it helps some of the kids so they can be in the fair and show some of their awards, but I think it was a little different, I think people are used to the parade being at the beginning,” he said.
High School Band Director Paul Bingle has been a part of the fair parade for 12-13 years.
“The change that affected the band the most is the parade at the end of the fair,” he said. “Weather was great, parade went fine, people in town still seemed to show up, but the grandstands looked a little thinner than usual. As for the actual running of the parade, it seemed okay.
“I think it makes more sense to kick off the fair with the parade, but not being my decision and respecting the decision of the fair board, they wanted to try it at the end and said, ‘let’s see what happens.’”
Another big change was the switch to a 72-hour swine program. Pigs didn’t come to the fair until Monday night and they left on Thursday. According to Swine Department Committee Chair Bill Croucher, this decision was made by the Fair Board to reduce the chance of illness for the animals.
Ed Cochran hasn’t been to the Preble County Fair in many years, but he used to camp at the fairgrounds when his son showed swine in 4-H.
“The change is probably good for the pigs, if they are in a better environment on the farm, wherever they kept them. I know we were having to go up twice a day and weigh the pig, keep him comfortable. [The 72-hour program] is probably a good thing,” he said.
Other changes included a new ride company — Big O Amusements — and additional food vendors.
Stevenson noted, the rides were clean and the staff was friendly. There was also “plenty” of food on the grounds for the attendees.
Heather Ingrim thought the entire fair seemed smaller than it was in past years.
“I noticed it was a little smaller — it felt a little smaller. There aren’t a lot of big variety in the rides or food vendors.”
Mark Elliott agreed, “The food selection seems a little less.”
However, they both enjoyed the animals and crafts immensely. They added, they wished there was a petting zoo of some sort like there had been in past years.
“I think there should be more animals,” Elliott said.
After the parade, Eaton High School Band Director Paul Bingle noted, “It seems like there are more [food vendors], but I figured that was because of the less people around.”
Looking at fair week as a whole, Stevenson noted, he considers it another successful year, but added, “Attendance was down. Attendance was down mid-week, but we recovered on the weekends.”
Tina Ett lives in Montgomery County and still managed to visit the Preble County Fair twice this year. She says, she visits because she loves it and has a great time.
“We love the Preble County Fair. We have a good time. We love the demolition derby, that is why we come,” she said.
As for any changes it will make for next year’s fair, Stevenson said the Fair Board will have to discuss once this year is fully closed and all the numbers are in.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH