Barry County Fair Board could disband

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Barry County Fair Board has announced tentative plans to disband due to lack of volunteer help.

According to Ernest Ray, president of the board, the nine members have not met since July, and efforts are being made to hold a final meeting this month in order to dissolve the board. Ray cited several reasons for this action.

"We are just not getting the help we need," Ray said. "It takes a lot of man hours to run the fair. We've had a couple of members go off the board and no replacements.

"Funding is also a problem," Ray continued. "Some counties, like Newton County, have a tax that funds their youth fairs but Barry County doesn't. We have fundraisers to raise the money to put on the fair each year, but those have fallen short."

Ray said that students from Cassville High School's ag classes have helped in setting up and tearing down the pens and displays for the annual event, but even that help is limited.

"Those kids have been great about helping set up, but then they want to display their animals," Ray said. "We need adults to come in during the beef, goat and poultry shows to help."

Ray said that the premiums paid to students for their market animals go back into the community.

"The thin is, if we don't have a show here, the Barry County kids can't take their animals somewhere else and get into the premium sale," Ray explained. "They only have the chance to market their animals at the Barry County premium, unless they go to Springfield. But a lot of kids don't go anywhere besides the Barry County Fair."

Ray said that funding and manpower are equally important in hosting a successful fair.

"You can't have one without the other," he said. "The money is equally as important as volunteers.

"We've lost a lot of community support over the past few years," Ray said. "And I'm not sure if it's because people are too busy or what."

Board members should already be planning for next year's event.

"This is not an event that can be thrown together the week before the fair," Ray said. "We need volunteers to step up and help in planning for next year, or the board is more than likely going to vote to dissolve at their next meeting.

"That's not only disappointing to the board but to the kids. That's going to be the worst part of it. They look forward to showing their animals every year.

"The Barry County Youth Fair has been a tradition for as long as I can remember," Ray said. "The board would hate to see it go."

Anyone who is interested in working with the Barry County Youth Fair can contact Ray at 417-489-7893.

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