GALLIPOLIS — A week of fun is commonly associated with the Gallia County Junior Fair, but what does it take to maintain a fair and its grounds?
“You’ve got all of your chairpersons that take care of running the fair. We’re pretty good about different guys taking care of different things,” said Mike McCalla, Gallia County Junior Fair Board treasurer. “The chairman makes sure it’s done.”
McCalla said he takes care of security, gates and organizing the groundwork for the fairground. He said the last four weeks, volunteers and the fair board had been preparing to get the fairgrounds ready for the coming event. Edna Dovenbarger serves as caretaker of the fairgrounds property.
According to the fair board member, the Gallia County Junior Fair property has roughly 250 acres of land. He said it was a “full-time job” taking care of the electrical issues, rerouting lines in old buildings and making sure flood waters have not damaged or made electric lines dangerous. He said some of the original electrical work from when the fairgrounds were first christened in the 1950s still exists.
“Well, whenever you have water in buildings, you’ve got mud. First thing we do after a flood is hose all the buildings out, open everything out and disinfect everything. You have to do that within minutes after a flood,” McCalla said. “If it goes down at three in the morning, we have people on it because if it dries (mud), it’s a mess.”
McCalla felt that solving water and flood problems would help lower the fair’s maintenance bills.
“I think right here now we have 20 (power) meters. Our lowest bill, when nothing is on, is like $4,000,” McCalla said.”The week of the fair will probably be $12,000 to $13,000. The week after will likely be $8,000.”
McCalla said $3,000 was spent bringing in limestone gravel to help fill in holes and weak spots in the fairgrounds property. He estimated the fair uses 500 tons a year in gravel.
A fair worker in the fair board office noted that two cubic 40-yard Dumpsters existed on the property and are taken away at least once a day during the fair to be emptied. At the fair campgrounds, he said two cubic 20 yard Dumpsters were taken.
McCalla said the livestock stalls are cleaned and maintained the month before the fair begins but with recent flood waters, extra measures were taken to clear livestock buildings.
“There’s so much (to maintaining) the fairgrounds, it’s hard to know where to start,” McCalla said. “We’d be nowhere without our volunteers. Everybody who comes to the fair has volunteered a little bit of something at some point. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many folks come here to help.”
McCalla said the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office is contracted to provide security at the fair. He said Gallia County EMS stations an ambulance near the pulling track at 6:30 p.m. and that nurses are brought onto the fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The firefighters of Gallia County rotate members between the various townships for fair duty. Gallipolis Fire Chief Keith Elliott said his firefighters were serving food at a concessions stand, and a brush truck and small ATV were on the fair property to help prevent major problems.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.