(NOTE: This column was published on Wednesday, July 17, the week of the 2019 Jackson County Fair. Congratulations to the fair on a successful run!)

The Jackson County Fair is taking place this week at the longtime fairgrounds in Wellston, and if you’re not necessarily planning to attend before it concludes late this coming Saturday evening, you might want to reconsider that decision.

This year’s edition of the Jackson County Fair offers a wide range of entertainment for all ages, plenty of great food, and the multiple enticements of the midway.

For music lovers, another top-notch country-music concert has been scheduled for this Thursday evening at the grandstand with up-and-coming Nashville star Mitchell Tenpenny as the headline attraction at 9 p.m., and the talented Lainey Wilson on stage for the opening act at 7:30 p.m. The regular gate admission of $10 gets you in the grandstand on a first-come, first-served basis, but concert-goers willing to pay an extra $10 can also reserve premium closer-up seating on the track. This $20 total cost for premium seating and a two-part concert represents a great value. For example, Tenpenny will be playing a county fair at Troy, Ohio the next Wednesday and the cheapest ticket is priced at $31.

Many area fairgoers are partial to the thrill shows and there are several on tap for the remainder of the week evenings, starting with a Monster Truck Competition featuring “Bigfoot” on Wednesday evening, Fast Traxx Motocross on Friday evening and a Demolition Derby on the finale night, Saturday. The derby is reverting to local organization this year, and Fair Board leaders are hoping for a boost in both attendance and participation.

The daily gate admission covers not only admittance to the grounds, but also all grandstand seating for all the entertainment. Admission is only $8 Monday through Wednesday and $10 Thursday through Saturday, which seems quite reasonable when you consider that the Fair Board must maintain the buildings and grounds on a year-round basis. This Friday, all military veterans will be admitted for free with a proper ID.

Beyond the value to the customer, there is an even better reason to attend the Jackson County Fair as it represents a sterling example of the volunteer spirit which still exists in this county, as well as a worthy investment in our youth and their future.

On the Junior Fair side of the grounds, literally hundreds of 4-H members and other local youth bring a wide range of different projects to the fair. These projects not only teach these young people a particular skill or skills, but the experience teaches them responsibility, commitment, attention to detail and in many cases fosters a desire for excellence and success which will carry through to their adult lives. On a more personal level, the fair also brings families and friends together for a common purpose and forges relationships and friendships that will continue long past this week.

The adults who make this happen for our kids are to be commended. This long list includes the Jackson County Fair Board, County Extension Director/4-H Extension Educator Erin Dailey and her staff, the various fair-related committees, the many 4-H advisors and other almost countless volunteers who live at the fair during fair week or spend most of their time there.

These were the same folks who directed the planning and fundraising efforts to complete the construction of two new buildings which were dedicated last Thursday evening -- a new Junior Fair Office and a new Goats/Sheep Barn. These two projects cost well in excess of $200,000 and there is still a loan to pay.

These leaders and organizers deflect the credit to the many generous donors who have financially supported not only this year’s building projects, but also support the fair and the participating youth on a continuing basis. Many of these supporters will no doubt show up this Friday afternoon and evening when the annual Livestock Sale begins at 3 p.m. at the Joe Morgan Memorial Show Arena.

The Fair Board also counts on other major sponsors to step up financially including the following day sponsors: Holzer Health System, Bellisio Foods, Diamond J. Rodeo and Bridgeport Equipment, Jackson Ag Service and Mark Porter Ford, General Mills, WesBanco, and Brown-Foreman.

Don’t let the weather, cable TV or other obstacles get in your way. Make it a point to attend the Jackson County Fair before it ends this Saturday evening. The investment in money and time will be well worth it.

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That’s About It… Be Seeing You.