Obion County Fair crowned AA champion
Posted: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 9:02 pm
Continuing a long tradition of excellence, the Obion County Fair was named AA State Champion Fair during the Merit Awards Banquet at the 89th Annual Convention of the Tennessee Association of Fairs.
In order to participate in the Merit Awards program, a fair has to pay out at least $1,000 in approved agricultural premiums. With 3,256 adult entries and 14,952 junior (children) entries, the Obion County Fair paid out $47,949 in approved ag premiums, which include livestock as well as quilting, cooking, canning, field crops, flowers and vegetables. This figure does not include the two auctions held during the fair. The poultry auction paid $21,175 and the Obion County Junior Livestock auction paid exhibitors more than $137,000. The local fair paid out a total of $101,746 in all premiums, which includes all other categories.
“This is a huge amount of revenue going back to county residents,” fair president Brenda Baker said.
Amount of premiums is only a small part of the judging criteria for the state award. Each fair participating hosts two official visitors assigned by the Tennessee Association of Fairs. Each official visitor makes an on-site inspection during fair week and rates the local fair in such diverse areas as variety of entertainment offered, cleanliness of the grounds and restrooms, the carnival, community participation and sponsorship, live demonstrations, livestock shows, advertising and signage and unique events held during fair week. These two reports along with a written report on department entries, totals and monies paid out, as well as an essay report covering all aspects of the fair, are submitted to the state Merit Awards committee. Each fair is judged during an intensive Merit Awards committee meeting held at the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville each November. Results are secret until the announcement at the state convention.
“Community support and participation is a huge part of a winning fair,” Mrs. Baker said. “The fair board of directors wants to express their appreciation to all of Obion County for the outstanding cooperation and untiring assistance shown to the local fair. The Obion County Fair would not be the success it is without our sponsors and exhibitors as well as the county and city government, UT Extension personnel, FCE club members who serve as superintendents, the Obion County Rescue Squad, Obion County Sheriff’s and Union City Police departments, the Union City Fire Department, Obion County Highway Department, Union City Public Works, OCCHS, Union City and South Fulton high schools, 4-H and FFA, as well as The Messenger and local media who cover the events during fair week. The list is too long to itemize everyone but the Obion County Fair recognizes the contributions made and the loyalty shown each year. All I can say is thank you,” she said.
The three-day event brought several other honors to the local fair. Obion County Fairest of the Fair Brooke Beachum was named second maid to Tennessee’s Fairest of the Fair Hannah Robison, who represented the Henry County Fair. Rounding out the court were first maid Nicole Pancotto of the Sevier County Fair, third maid ShaNay Grissom of the White County Fair and fourth maid Olivia Majors of the Warren County Fair. A highlight of the convention, the pageant showcased 56 young ladies from all across the state. Two intensive days include personal interviews and rehearsals before climaxing with questions on stage before a huge audience. Miss Beachum, the daughter of Dr. Steve Beachum and the late Theresa Beachum, captured the crowd with her poise and beauty. A large delegation of family braved the inclement weather to attend the pageant. Miss Beachum accepted the Merit Awards certificate at the banquet before helping Mrs. Baker accept the AA Champion trophy from the new Commissioner of Agriculture Julius Johnson.
The Obion County Fair is well represented at the Tennessee Association of Fairs convention each year. Tommy Wheatley of Kenton, one of 14 volunteer directors of the Obion County Fair, accepted the gavel as incoming Tennessee Association of Fairs president from 2010 president Lynn Tollett of the Cumberland County Fair. Wheatley has served on the state board for six years, two of those years as West Tennessee vice president, and the last year as first vice president. He will serve a one-year term as president of the state organization. Wheatley is the third president from Obion County to serve in this capacity. Jim Rippy Jr. served in 1975, while Johnny Bruff was named president in 1996.
Others serving on state committees include Craig McManus on the Merit Awards committee, Robert Pruett on the usher committee, Johnny and Patsy Bruff on the auction committee and Mrs. Baker and Wheatley on the Fair Showcase committee.
The Obion County Fair also brought home a Fair Showcase trophy and check for best brochure, as well as a second place for best envelope.
The state convention allows local fairs to network with other fairs, meet prospective acts for the coming fair and attend workshops where vital information is dispensed. Workshops attended by members of the local fair included “Nuts & Bolts of Grant Writing” and “Marketing Your Fair to Attract Sponsors.” Musical and variety acts showcasing during the convention, included Wade Henry, Savannah Jack and The Springs. Grand Ole Opry celebrity, Mike Snider of Gleason, wowed the audience during the final general session. Snider and his band entertained with jokes and fast paced bluegrass music before ending with an old hymn accompanied by his harmonica. He greeted fans in the hall after the session.
Those attending from the Obion County Fair were Mrs. Baker, Sam Baker, Tommy and Janice Wheatley, Stacy Wheatley, Sharon and Bob Regen, Tammy Sparks, Robert Pruett, Blake Laws, Johnny and Patsy Bruff and Craig McManus. State Rep. Bill Sanderson joined the Obion County Fair delegation for the Merit Awards banquet and was introduced to the audience by Mrs. Baker.
District winners, who are divided into districts by the size of their counties and not the size of their fairs, included:
• District A — State Champion Fair Fentress County Fair; first runner up Sequatchie County Fair and second runner up Morgan County Fair;
• District AA — State Champion Fair Obion County Fair, first runner up Middle Tennessee District Fair and second runner up Warren County Fair;
• District AAA — State Champion Fair Cumberland County Fair, first runner up Coffee County Fair and second runner up Jefferson County Fair;
• Most Improved Fair — District A Decatur County Fair, District AA Rhea County Fair and District AAA Robertson County Fair;
Each year, the champion fairs from each district from the previous year compete for the Champion of Champions fair award. This year’s winner was Lincoln County Fair. It competed against District A Premier Fair White County Fair and District AAA Premier Fair Wilson County Fair
This year’s Obion County Fair will be held Aug. 15-20.
Published in The Messenger 2.1.11