The Delaware County Fair has been an area institution for 123 years, so when a Delaware County town supervisor admitted during a county board meeting that he didn't know what the fair was, it elicited an incredulous reaction from the other board members.
Franklin Supervisor Don Smith proposed a resolution Wednesday to donate $5,000 to help rebuild the 4-H horse barn that the Delaware Valley Agricultural Society lost in an arson fire on the fairgrounds last fall.
Smith said he was in favor of the donation but noted that when the fairgrounds needed new cow barns, the farmers who exhibited cows provided most of the donations. Smith said he would like to see the people who use the horse barns donate more to the rebuilding effort.
Masonville Supervisor Craig DuMond said he has four boys that are active in 4-H, but he couldn't think of anything that is a better generator of tourism and economic development than the Delaware County Fair.
"It's wonderful that we still have kids who want to be part of our right agricultural heritage," DuMond said.
Sidney Supervisor Bob McCarthy then shocked the room with his comment. "I don't know what this is," McCarthy said of the fair. "What do they do there?"
One by one, the supervisors began to convey the importance of the time-honored summer fair and the role the fairgrounds play in other events.
"This fair means something irreplaceable to this county," Meredith Supervisor Keitha Capouya said, noting that she remembers attending the fair as a child when she visited her Delaware County relatives.
Walton Supervisor Bruce Dolph added: "The fairgrounds are used for events throughout the year. It's a very active part of the town of Walton, and fundraisers held there benefit the entire county."
Middletown Supervisor Len Utter said, "The fair is a springboard for our youth into adulthood."
Board Chairman James Eisel replied: "The fair is a great economic engine for our county. I wish there was a fair there every month of the year."
As supervisors around the table continued to interject memories and platitudes about the fair, Davenport Supervisor Dennis Valente brought the discussion to an end when he said with a laugh, "Bob, I think that is the bravest comment I have ever heard a supervisor make."
McCarthy laughed before adding, "Well, I own a plot in the Walton Cemetery, but I have never been there either!"
Everyone laughed, and the resolution to donate funds to help rebuild the barn passed unanimously.
Delaware County Agricultural Society President Gary Tweedie said last week that the fair is the biggest social event in Delaware County, where people go to see everyone they haven't seen all year.
Maybe McCarthy should plan to go to the fair this year and see who and what he has been missing.
Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.