SULLIVAN, Ohio — Everyone has something they are passionate about and for Susan Denbow it is the Ashland County Fair.
Denbow, who represents Sullivan Township on the board, has been a member of the board of directors for the Ashland County Agricultural Society since 2011 when she ran for the board to fill the seat vacated when Dan Hawley, the previous Sullivan township representative, retired.
“I have always been involved in the fair,” said Denbow, “When Dan retired, other members of the fair board came to me and asked me if I was interested in filling the position. I wasn’t sure, but I decided to give it a try.”
Denbow grew up on a dairy farm and showed dairy projects and also exhibited cooking and sewing projects during her time in 4-H. Later, when her daughter was old enough for 4-H, Denbow became a 4-H adviser, a position she held for 40 years.
Because her daughter showed goats, Denbow was familiar with the goat barn and knew the exhibitors.
Spending time in the barn, first as a parent and now as a fair board member, Denbow saw some things that she felt could be improved to make the barn more comfortable for the exhibitors.
And her efforts to improve things for the exhibitors earned her recognition during the annual fair managers convention in January when she received the Excellence in Innovation Award.
“When I see something that needs to be done, I do it,” Denbow said.
She approached Steve Englet, fair manager with the Ashland County Agricultural Society, about the possibility of getting a new floor for the goat barn, but when the project was completed, it was much more.
“Steve helped me write the grant applications and we were able to secure about $30,000 in grants,” she said.
“We used the money to put a new floor in the barn, new doorways and new pens. We were able to find sponsors for the pens. … The updates made the barn cleaner and more attractive. It is healthier for the animals.”
She added that Englet is easy to work with when it comes to supporting projects around the fair.
In addition to her responsibilities with the goat department, Denbow also helps with the dairy and rabbit barns, and a relatively new barn known as “The Beehive,” which has honey, bee displays and local beekeepers willing to share their knowledge.
Another project Denbow was involved with was the construction of new restroom facilities by the livestock barns and by the kiddie rides. Not only are the restrooms cleaner and more convenient, but they are also accessible.
Denbow says that every year, she tries to pick a project to carry out. One such project was painting the steps of the grandstand red, not only to add some color, but also make the steps more visible, so that people would notice them.
Denbow also has worked on getting flowers planted around the barns and getting wooden cut-outs installed on the barns around the fairgrounds to indicate what the barns and buildings showcase.
“We can take these down and store them at the end of the fair so they last,” she said.
Denbow said the fair board works hard to keep the fair friendly, clean and safe for the exhibitors and visitors alike. She enjoys being on the fair board and promoting the fair and its activities.
“We have something for everyone, from livestock to rides to demonstrations to equipment,” she said. “But at the same time, we are here for the 4-H and FFA members; we do what we do for them.”
Denbow said the Ashland county fair still has a strong agricultural appeal.
“It is fun to watch the kids interacting with exhibitors in other barns,” she said. “Everyone has something they are passionate about and we have to let people share that passion,” she said.
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