ATHENS, Ohio — Respected as a young man who lived life to the fullest, Noah Cox will forever be remembered in Athens County.
The Noah Cox Grooming Pavilion made its debut with a ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 6 at the Athens County Fair, paying tribute to Noah, a teen from Coolville, Ohio, who died in a tractor accident May 31, 2017.
Last year, following the teen’s death, 13 buyers joined forces to pay $26,000 for his grand champion steer, shown at the county fair by Cox’s best friend, Austin Pullins. Including the 2017 sale, approximately $90,000 has been donated toward a memorial fund.
The first goal was to build a grooming pavilion at the county fairgrounds for 4-H and FFA members.
“It’s a place we can have some fun and get to work,” said Stephanie Cox, Noah’s mother.
The 40-by-80 pavilion was finished the week of July 23 and the 2018 fair started Aug. 3. The day before the fair started, the pavilion was a busy hub, with youth exhibitors stowing their show boxes and setting up grooming chutes.
It sits between the beef and dairy barn, and houses about 24 10-by-10 areas for youth to set up.
“We used to groom cattle under the big tree. They all brought tents and it looked like tent city,” Stephanie said. “It is a lot nicer with the pavilion and the areas to plug in.”
Right now, the floor is limestone dust, but they are planning to pour concrete before the 2019 fair.
“We are thankful the fair board allowed us to do it,” Stephanie said.
J&M Carpentry, Fredericksburg, built the pavilion; Trout Electric, Athens, did the electrical work; and R C Construction, Coolville, did the dirt work and brought in the gravel.
“First and foremost, it puts a new face around the beef barns and looks very, very good,” said Calvin Jarvis, fair board president and Cox family friend.
“We have ideas to use the building for additional things, too, like grooming clinics or an additional show ring. There are lots of options,” he said.
Original story about the community supporting Noah’s memorial fund.Remember me
The new pavilion has also seemed to trigger other improvements on the fairgrounds, said Stephanie Cox said. It drew attention to the grounds and made people excited to see it and go to the fair this year.
“It is emotional both ways. In one way, it is good to see it up, but sad to see it up — I’d rather have my kid back,” Stephanie said through tears.
“Truthfully, it has made a difference on the community — it’s always been full of caring and people who would do anything for anybody — but it’s made everyone come together,” she said about the accident.
“There are so many good people in the world that don’t get credit.”
A huge tree stood at the site of the new building, but, because of its age, it needed to come down. The Coxes connected with Dave Marcum, with 2M Lumber in Shade, Ohio, to create an additional way to remember Noah.
Marcum is now making as many benches and picnic tables as he can out of the tree.
“There aren’t a lot of places to sit and relax at the fair,” said Stephanie, “That’s one thing Noah loved to do — just relax and have a good time.”
During the 2018 fair, Cedar Mountain Designs was onsite, carving a two-sided bench, using wood from the same tree.
One side will have a silhouette of Noah and his calf, Dingo, and the other side will feature the 4-H and FFA emblems, two programs Noah loved.
The public was invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 6. State Rep. Jay Edwards, R-94, said a few words and Jarvis, who conducted Noah’s memorial service, also spoke at the ribbon cutting.
“If you are going to take one lesson away from Noah’s life, it should be to give your 100 percent. He always did,” Jarvis said about Noah.
“I tried to impress to everyone at the funeral that day, that it doesn’t matter what you do in life — work at the Farm and Dairy or in auto repair, like me — whatever you do in the show ring of life, give it your all.”
“Noah won a lot, but he also lost and he took that opportunity to learn and make improvements.”
Jeff and Stephanie Cox plan to use the remaining donations to develop a scholarship in their son’s name, and are working to put a scholarship in place for next year.
And they continue to help youth show cattle. The week the Athens County Fair started, they were at the Ohio State Fair with Austin Pullins, Noah’s best friend, who was showing two steers and two feeder calves. They were also helping a couple other 4-H’ers with their first time at the state fair.
“The 4-H program and state fair will probably never get rid of us. We just love helping the kids,” she said.