A task force will soon be studying ways to "reinvigorate" the Hamilton County Fair.
The Hamilton County Commissioners appointed members of the task during a meeting Thursday.
"So the 13 members will get together, they will talk about what they view as the best way to move forward with the Hamilton County Fair, and we hope to have a report by February 29, 2020," said Commission President Denise Driehaus.
Task force members include:
- Brandon Weirs, Kathleen Norris, and Frances Santangelo, representing the public at large
- Tony Staubach, representing the Hamilton County 4-H
- Christie Montoya, representing the Hamilton County Farm Bureau
- Pete Rebold, representing the Harvest Home Fair
- Joseph Nava, representing the neighborhood of Carthage within the City of Cincinnati
- Holly Christmann, representing the Hamilton County Administration
- Deborah Carney, representing the Ohio State Extension Office of Hamilton County
- Melissa Johnson, representing the Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati
- John Juech, representing the City of Cincinnati
- Mark House and William Hammond, representing the interests of the Hamilton County Agricultural Society
A Cincinnati Enquirer article this summer highlighted attendance problems for the fair and financial records the state auditor's office called "un-auditable."
The Hamilton County Fair started in 1820 and will celebrate its bicentennial in 2020.
Commissioners in their resolution said the fair "has suffered years of declining attendance and reductions in revenue that have combined to reduce maintenance and upkeep of facilities further reducing the attractiveness of the fair as an entertainment attraction and the fairgrounds as a venue upon which to conduct the fair."
The commission also said it's "committed to generating the highest and best use of the existing fairgrounds property" in Carthage.
The task force is being asked to consider the following issues:
- The Fair should embrace the history and tradition of the Hamilton County Fair
- The Fair should demonstrate role that agriculture plays in an urban county like Hamilton County in areas of urban farming, sustainable development, recycling and alternative energy
- The Fair should present a blend of entertainment options that are attractive to the diverse populations that make up Hamilton County
- The Fair should strive to be self-sufficient and sustaining from Fair operations; or failing that, from other revenues generated for the benefit of the Fair during the balance of the year
- The Fair should be managed by an entity that can represent the diverse interests of Hamilton County and that possesses the expertise to run a successful entertainment operation and venue that the Hamilton County Fair should be
- The Fair should be staged and presented at a venue that is accessible, inviting, clean, safe and convenient to Hamilton County’s population
- The task force should consider whether the existing Fairgrounds property should be considered as the location of the Fair or whether other options exist within the county which could host a modern urban fair
- The task force may consider such other matters, not specifically enumerated herein, that are, nonetheless, consistent with the best interests of the presentation of the Hamilton County Fair
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.