Fair Person of the YearGerri Moore: Learning and leading

HOOKSTOWN, Pa. – In 1977, Gerri Moore knew nothing about 4-H or the local fair.

Today she is at the top, doing what it takes to put a fair together.

The responsibility and dedication that comes along with such a position is what makes Moore this year’s Pennsylvania Fair Person of the Year.

Family-a-Fair. Gerri started out as a parent who volunteered her time while her two daughters, who were about 8 at the time, started in Beaver County 4-H.

Since they had never been involved with 4-H, it was all new for the entire family.

“Any family that’s in 4-H together can learn and have fun together,” Moore said.

Moore volunteered at the PTA concession booth while her girls were still in school and at the 4-H Stockman’s Club concession booth at the Hookstown Fair.

Moore found the time to volunteer even while operating the GRH company, a steel grinding business.

“It’s a family activity that everyone can be interested in. That’s where my love for the fair came in,” Moore said.

Taking over. Moore worked her way up to assistant secretary for the Hookstown Fair board and later was appointed to the board.

Seven years ago, while working on the board, the president of the board became ill.

She filled in and ended up taking over the position.

Since 1994, Moore has been a Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs director and in 2001-2002 she was the first woman to serve as the association’s president.

Moore was also the first woman president of the association to become a certified fair executive for the International Association of Fairs and Expos. This is the highest level that can be accomplished, usually after seven years of service.

She also enjoys volunteering for the Pennsylvania State Farm Show as the director of family living.

In that role, she oversees some 50 volunteers and coordinates the showcased baked goods, canned goods, crafts, clothing and quilts.

Fair Person of the Year. Although Moore accomplished many titles and services in her fair career, nothing prepared her for the surprise she received earlier this year at the Pennsylvania State Association Convention.

Surprise. Sitting at the convention with a fussy grandchild on her lap, Moore was just about to take the child out of the room when her daughter insisted she stay.

When a presenter started to read prepared remarks about this year’s Fair Person of the Year and her family began to laugh, she realized why.

Moore was overwhelmed with the award and contributes her success to having great peers, the fair at Hookstown and lots of support, especially from her daughters and her brother Richard Rogers, who got involved when the family started in 4-H and now serves as Hookstown’s director of security and parking.

“It’s one of the nicest things that could happen,” Moore said. “It’s just great.”

Hookstown upgrade. Moore takes her position seriously, and because she loves and cares about the fair, she is always looking to improve it.

“We’ve upgraded the grounds tremendously in the last seven years,” she said.

The Hookstown Fairgrounds now has a new restroom, livestock barn and horse arena, along with a historic village that is being built piece by piece.

The fair also supports 30 nonprofit organizations such as the Boy Scouts, churches and fire departments so they can raise money for their organizations.

Educating you. Travel is also a big part of Moore’s job.

She has traveled as far as California to visit fairs to bring back ideas that might be useful, and she’s visited state fairs from Colorado to Maine.

“Each fair does something different that they’re proud of,” Moore said, “We’re looking to educate you.”

Moore particularly liked an event in Florida – a shoebox float contest.

“Kids in the city, they have something to enter too,” she explained.

Be a kid again. Hookstown is a Grange fair that has 50,000 visitors a year.

“We’re a unique tri-state fair because of our location,” Moore said. Hookstown is located near the state lines of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The 58th Hookstown Fair runs Aug. 24-28, and the theme is Be a Kid Again.

And that’s what it’s all about, Moore said.

“You have to be community friendly and make them want to come to your event,” she said.

Everyone works as a volunteer, no one gets paid – and a big part of it is being there for the kids.

“The neat part is to see the happiness it brings to people,” she said.

Special fondness. Moore’s experienced many fairs but she has a special fondness for them no matter where she is.

“The sounds and smells – that’s the fair.”

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