By Wayne Gates
The 2018 Brown County Fair got off to a soggy start.
The very rare decision to cancel the opening parade was made on Monday, Sept. 24 due to the threat of severe weather. Brown County Senior Fair Board President Bill Neal said that the rain was causing a few issues, but that he wasn’t concerned.
“It’ll be a good fair. People come to the Brown County Fair no matter what the weather is,” he said.
Brown County 4-H Advisor Christy Clary was also dealing with the aftermath of all the rain on the first day of the fair.
“With Junior Fair, we just roll with the punches. Our horse kids were out there in the rain exhibiting. They had to cancel a couple of things, but not many. All of our other shows were able to happen and the show will go on,” Clary said.
One event that did go off as planned was the 2018 Brown County Fair King and Queen Contest.
Before the contest, the Neal family was honored as the Grand Marshall for the parade.
Bill Neal, his Brother Bob and his father Harmon have all served on the Brown County Fair for a total of sixty years of service and counting.
Brother Barney Neal also plays an important role in organizing various events, and Neal spouses Chris, Julie and Lisa are also heavily involved behind the scenes at the fair.
Multiple generations of the Neal family were invited to the stage in the Danny Gray Activity Center to be honored. At the center was family matriarch Velva Neal.
“It felt so good it made tears come to my eyes. Everybody in Brown County is so kind and so thoughtful,” said Velva. Brown County is a wonderful place to live. Everybody is so kind to you. It’s good to be here.”
Velva has along history of service to the fair herself, serving as an advisor to the Hamersville Livestock 4-H Club and a founding member of the Brown County Pork Producers.
Bill Neal said he was also touched by the decision of the fair board to honor his family.
“It felt good that they would think to do that. It brings all the memories through the years of all the kids that we started out in junior fair. Now we have a second generation and working on a third. The fair has really grown and it’s been a great experience,” he said.
Before the king and queen contest started, the 2017 royalty looked back at the past year.
“It’s gone by fast. It’s been crazy but it’s definitely been worth it. My favorite part was probably the Ohio Fair Managers Conference. It was really fun going up there, meeting all the queens and then going to the other fairs,” said 2017 Queen Jasey Dufresne.
“All the younger kids looking up to you is probably what made me the happiest. A lot of them wanted to talk to us.”
2017 King Levi Troutman also said he enjoyed the past year.
“I also liked going to the other fairs and meeting the other kings and queens. We wore worn out at the end of that week, but it was fun,” he said.
When it came time to crown the 2018 fair royalty, Jacob Wagoner of the Eastern Brown FFA was named King.
Maria Rockey of the Russellville Ringleaders 4-H Club was named queen.
“I’m really happy and really excited. I can’t wait to go around and congratulate the other kids to see what they have done and visit the other fairs as well,” said Rockey.
Wagoner said he was surprised to be named king.
“I definitely didn’t think it would happen. Having my name being called as king was awesome. I’m really interested to see what the other fairs are doing and visiting other places,” he said.
When asked who she would like to thank, Rockey replied, “All of my coaches, advisors, my mom and my dad, as well as Laura Wood and Sarah Layton.”
Wagoner said he would like to thank “Mom and Dad and my FFA advisor Krista Hayslip.”
The Brown County Fair will continue through Saturday, Sept. 29.