Fair may start on Sunday next year: Leaders cite state fair, sports

The Wood County Fair could be starting on a Sunday next year, if a scheduling shift is allowed by Ohio Department of Agriculture.

The current Monday to Monday schedule creates overlapping date conflicts with the Ohio State Fair and high school sports.

The change is supported by Ohio Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, who has sent a formal letter of support to Wood County Fair Board President Kyle Culp and the Wood County Agricultural Society.

“The plan is to submit for new dates,” Culp said. “Whether ODA approves them, or not, is virtually out of our control.”

The dates the board agreed on in the spring are July 30 to Aug. 6, 2023. The deadline for submission is November. The board could submit the requested dates earlier, but is also still gathering support for the change.

The director of the ODA, Dorothy Pelanda, visited the Wood County Fair on Monday.

“I took it as an opportunity to have a conversation about this,” Culp said. “We’re making sure we have all the information we need before it’s submitted, but it’s nearly ready.”

The current Ohio Revised Code prohibits adjacent counties from having fairs that overlap with each other. Wood County has seven adjacent counties. Culp said that not all county fairs are a week long and they do not all begin on a Monday.

Chief among the issues it would help solve is a conflict with the Ohio State Fair. With a new Sunday to Sunday schedule, 4-H animals and projects could then move on to competition at the state fair.

“No longer would children be forced to choose between showing at their local county fair or the state fair,” Ghanbari wrote in his letter of support. “Furthermore, this change would prove helpful to the parents of these children as well as they would then have the ability and time to properly schedule time for their children to participate in the fair.”

There are also conflicts with Ohio High School Athletic Association sports, which allow practices to begin on Aug. 1.

Culp has researched how these restrictions have affected the fair, and last year made a presentation to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation for elimination of the overlap rule and allowing local control over fair dates. He is a former trustee and treasurer, both volunteer positions, for the organization.

“If the board believes we should do that, and it’s one day, I believe we should just have the freedom to do that,” Culp said. “At this point, the board has not had a discussion on a wholesale move, but rather how we make things easier on the back end, how do we make scheduling easier in the middle of the week. Gaining one extra day on the front side, solves about 80% of our issues.”

In that presentation he said that “nearly one third of Ohio’s counties have a period of overlap with the Ohio State Fair. Residents in the affected counties, fair participants and general population alike, are faced with the decision to either fully participate in county level events, state fair events, or some partial combination of the two.”

He also presented the sports conflict issue, noting the specific problems faced by some athletes.

“In a county like Wood, the result is students are often faced with threats of reduced playing time or being cut during tryouts if they participate in fair activities that conflict with practices. These difficult choices were actually presented to Wood County Junior Fair participants,” Culp wrote.

There are logistical concerns about moving the start date forward. The non-livestock projects need to be set up for display and some feel that having the entire weekend is necessary.

Culp also pointed out that people would have one less weekday to take off work, potentially as a vacation day, with the shift to a Sunday to Sunday schedule.