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Meet the Fairboard Directors

Meet the Senior Fairboard! 

These men and women are ALL volunteers and work lots and lots of hours to make the Ottawa County Fair happen!

Who are they? What motivates them? What do they love most about Fair? Well, now's a great time to find out. Each week we'll be adding a new Fairboard member's Q & A to the page! Scroll down to learn more about them...and when you see them at Fair, please give them a high five or tell them 'Thank you!'

DANI MCLAUGHLIN

Member, Sr. Fairboard

Chairperson, Open Class

Tell us more about yourself and how you became involved with the Sr. Fairboard?

I started helping out at the Junior Fairboard with my family (the Millers) when I was a kid in 4-H. Later,

I got involved again when my son joined 4-H as a Cloverbud. People often asked if I would run for the

Fairboard, and I always said I would consider it after my son graduated high school. When he graduated

in 2022, a friend brought me the paperwork, and I've been a Fairboard member ever since.

 

What motivates you to dedicate time & effort to the Fairboard?

As an advisor for the Ace of Clubs 4-H Club, I keep members and parents updated on everything

happening at the fair. My motivation comes from a deep commitment to ensuring the fair is both fun

and safe for everyone. The countless hours leading up to the fair are driven by my passion for creating

memorable and positive experiences for the community, particularly for the young members of 4-H.

 

How does the Fairboard decide which events, concessions, competitions, and entertainment to include each year?

Each year, we strive to introduce something new and exciting for everyone. We gather feedback from attendees to understand what they liked and disliked, ensuring we improve each year. We closely monitor event attendance to identify any declining interest. Additionally, we attend the Ohio Fair Managers Association (OFMA) conference to discover new acts and vendor. By combining community input and and what we learn from OFMA, we work to create engaging fair experience for all.

 

What are you most excited about for the 60th annual Fair this year?

For the 60th annual Fair this year, I am most excited about the Tractor Pulls and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Babyland.

 

What makes our county fair unique compared to others?

What makes our county fair unique compared to others is Babyland. We have had many different counties ask how we organize it and whether the Ace of Clubs members could assist their county's club in setting up a similar attraction at their fair.

 

What do you hope attendees take away from their experience at the fair?

I hope they have a great time and make a lot of memories!

SHERRI KLEINHANS

1st Vice President

Tell us more about yourself and how you became involved with the Sr. Fairboard.

I started in 4-H at 9 years old, but I was attending the Fair long before that. My entire family, on

both my mom’s and dad’s sides, were deeply involved in 4-H. My parents were 4-H advisors even

before I joined, and many of my relatives were also 4-H advisors, members, and even Sr. Fairboard

directors. I continued with 4-H through high school and was elected to the Sr. Fairboard a couple of

years later. However, I wanted to be more hands-on with our youth, so I became a 4-H advisor for a

horse club, where I stayed for about 15 years. Eventually, I felt called back to the Sr. Fairboard,

where I’ve been serving for the last 12 to 15 years!

 

Currently, I serve as the 1st Vice President of the board and Chairperson of the Beautification

and Special Events committees. I also oversee the Demo Derby and Autocross events during 

the Fair and the Autocross event in the fall. Additionally, I am a member of the Entertainment,

Maintenance, and Rental committees.

 

What motivates you to dedicate time and effort to the Fairboard and the many hours leading up to Fair Week?

Knowing how important 4-H was to me growing up and how much fun the fair was, I want to provide that same experience for kids who aren’t involved in sports or other extracurricular activities. I not only learned a lot but also made many friends that I wouldn’t have had if not for 4-H and attending the Fair, camp, Jr. Leadership, Jr. Fairboard, and committees.

 

What are one or two highlights of your time on the Sr. Fairboard?

During my first year on the Fairboard (the second time I joined), we weren’t sure if we could even have a fair. We were financially in the red, and it took a private individual cosigning a $50,000 loan for us to proceed. Despite this challenge, we pulled together as a mostly new board, created a plan to pay off the loan, and developed an operating plan to avoid future loans. We paid off all debts and rebuilt trust with the Ottawa County Commissioners, the community, and businesses. Thanks to incredible support, we have built new barns, made major repairs, and brought in more events for the Fair.

 

How does the Fairboard decide which events, concessions, competitions, and entertainment to include each year?

Every January, we attend the Fair Managers Convention in Columbus, where vendors and entertainers present what they offer. Our entertainment committee then decides which attractions we think will draw people to the Fair and fit within our budget.

 

What are you most excited about for the 60th annual Fair this year?

All the entertainment! We have more this year than in years past, which is very exciting.

 

What makes the Ottawa County Fair unique?

Unlike other fairs, the Ottawa County Fairgrounds is located on the Portage River and offers a large camping area for people to stay and experience everything the Fair has to offer for the entire week.

 

How has the Ottawa County Fair evolved over the years to meet the changing needs and interests of the community?

We have several buildings available to rent for weddings, parties, fundraisers, and more, which helps offset expenses year-round. Additionally, the Ottawa County Horse Foundation was created to improve the horse program at the fairgrounds. They envisioned a new arena for our youth to show in during the Fair, even in heavy rainfall, and to host horse shows throughout the year. What you see today is a result of those efforts.

 

Are there any new initiatives or plans that you're excited about?

We are excited about a new kitchen area that will soon be added to Damschroder Hall. This addition will increase the types of events the Hall can host. Special thanks to the Ottawa County Commissioners for their support in funding this project.

 

What do you hope people take away from the Fair when they come?

I hope they enjoy it so much that they come back year after year and even decide to become sponsors. We have many different opportunities for involvement!

MIKE LIBBEN

2nd Vice President

 

Tell us more about yourself and how you became involved with the Sr. Fairboard?

I grew up on a farm in Port Clinton and was active with 4-H and the Fair all my childhood. My dad,

Bob, was one of the directors on the Fairboard so I spent a lot of time on the grounds with that

generation and learned about all the hard work they put into growing the facility and the Fair itself.

Currently, I serve as 2nd Vice President and head up sponsorships and grants as well as assist

with renting of the facilities.

 

What motivates you to dedicate time and effort to the Fairboard and the many hours

leading up to the Fair?

I enjoy reaching out to our community and getting their involvement in sponsoring the fair. We

could not do this without the community’s support and I am thankful for all who step up to show

that support every year. I also like writing grant requests that ultimately help us improve the

fairgrounds for everyone to enjoy.

 

What are one or two highlights of your time on the Fairboard?

We have developed a great relationship with our Ottawa County Commissioners – Don Douglas, Mark Stahl and Mark Coppeler. We are grateful for their increased support and in appropriating funding to upgrade facilities like Damschroder Hall (B3), show barn bleachers, GenoaBank Pavilion, etc.

 

How does the Fairboard decide which events, concessions, competitions, and entertainment to include each year?

Post fair we always debrief to discuss what went right, wrong, needs improvement and what was a ‘big hit’ that we need to make sure to bring back. We also attend the annual fairs convention in Columbus where we find new ideas. Usually by early January we are well on our way to having the Fair planned.

 

What are you most excited about for the 60th annual Fair this year?

The 60th Fair is a great time to reflect on where we started and what we have grown it in to. In fact, there are folks who have been involved in all 60 years and I’m excited to hear their stories.

 

What makes the Ottawa County Fair unique?

No Fair in the state has a setting like ours - in the country, away from the city, and sitting with a racetrack on the banks of the Portage River. I challenge any fair to come up with a better location than that!

 

Are there any new initiatives or plans that you're excited about?

We are planning another addition to Damschroder Hall which will be a prep-kitchen. Construction will start later this year. With that addition to the facility, we will provide a more comprehensive location for weddings, fundraisers, and any other events the community may need.

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