Task Force Could Study Future Of Hamilton County Fair

Jul 30, 2019

Hamilton County commissioners could vote in a few weeks on a resolution to set up a task force to study the future of the county fair.

This year's Hamilton County Fair is scheduled for Aug. 8-11 at the county fairgrounds in Carthage.

A recent Cincinnati Enquirer article highlighted attendance problems for the fair and financial records the state auditor's office called "un-auditable."  

The proposed county resolutions cited "the most recent attendance numbers from 2017 report 9,060 visitors over the course of five days."

Commissioner Denise Driehaus suggested the task force. One thing it could consider, she said, is merging the county fair with the Harvest Home Fair, which has been struggling to find volunteers to help with the annual event in Cheviot.

"Groups that can think about where we are at this moment in time on all the fronts I just mentioned and where we might want to move in the future related to the Hamilton County Fair," Driehaus said.

Commissioner Stephanie Summerow Dumas is supportive of a task force.

"I've been over there before and there's some things that of course need to be done," Summerow Dumas said. "It's an old fair and things like that, but I like your idea of possibly combining fairs."

The proposed task force would have 11 members, appointed by the commission, including representatives from 4-H, Farm Bureau, the Harvest Home Fair, Carthage, Ohio State extension, and members of the public.  

Commissioner Todd Portune has been involved with the county fair issue for a long time, and he said it's not the first time concerns have been raised about the future of the event.

"But it needs to be configured in a significant way, in a major new way, in order for it to be attractive to all of the diverse people that live in Hamilton County and interests that exist in Hamilton County and it just is not that today," Portune said.

The county, by state law, is required to hold a fair.  The county owns the 38-acre fairgrounds, but it's leased to the Hamilton County Agriculture Society, which is responsible for planning the county fair.

Several years ago, county 4-H groups separated from the Hamilton County Fair and now hold their own 4-H Community Fair at Stricker's Grove Amusement Park in Crosby Township.  That event is held in July.  It's website highlights animal shows, concessions and rides similar to what is typically found at a county fair in Ohio.