Patrons of the 2015 Williams County Fair will likely have an easier time finding a seat to enjoy their fried purchases than in previous years.
The Williams County Fair Board elected to purchase seven picnic tables from Lowe’s, setting aside $2,000 for the task, it was decided at the board’s June Regular meeting.
The idea was suggested by board newcomer Al Bennett, who first brought the issue to the attention of the Fair Foundation, an organization of which he is the President.
When discussing the problem with his fellow board members, Bennett cited his own issues with the lack of seating offered by the Fair in the past.
“Unfortunately, I’m one of the few members of the Fair Foundation who has small children.”
Bennett claimed that seeking out a place for his family to sit down and take in the unique treats offered at the county-wide event proved to be quite a difficult undertaking, particularly given the rambunctious nature that tends to dictate the actions of their more youthful members. Doing the proper research into deciding how much to spend on the tables and from where to purchase, them, he made a motion to the board that they spend the aforementioned $2,000 on the seven tables from Lowe’s.
While there were no outright objections from the board, one amongst their number expressed a concern on the matter.
“How are you going to keep track of them?” Asked Patrick “Buckey” Muehlfeld, representing Florence Township.
It was Muehlfeld’s contention that tables with the ability to fold would make for easy targets of a thief. Yet, while Bennett agreed with this claim, he countered that even those tables without the capacity to fold could still be stolen with little trouble, and that a careful eye would have to be kept on them at all times. The idea of stenciling Williams County Agricultural Society on each table circulated around the room as well, which appeared to alleviate most reservations about possible thievery.
Board President Eugene Wilson announced that he had been approached about the potential donation of a bench by the Montpelier Freemasons. Masonic Lodge 547 made an offer to donate a fiberglass bench with to the fairgrounds. Wilson passed around a picture of how the seat would appear to his fellow board members to examine.
Addressing the board as a guest, Athena Club representative Abigail Wurm attempted to clear up some misconceptions about her organization. Known as the purveyor of donuts at the Fair year after year, Athena was accused by some board members, at the May Regular meeting, of using three hundred free passes awarded to the club last year, which was done in order to allow them to provide their donuts, to instead experience the Fair free of charge. Wurm corrected this assertion, revealing that, of the 292 people listed as volunteers for the donut booth, and thus given free entry, only 172 of them belonged to the Athena Club, while 102 of said volunteers were members of the Montpelier Civic League and the remaining 58 working on behalf of the Montpelier High School Softball team.
Wurm was also quick to point out that roughly eighty percent of Athena members purchased Fair Passes on their own accord during the 2014 Fair anyway, negating the argument that they were gaining access to the event without paying.
“At the least, our group was not taking advantage of free admission to the Fair,” Wurm proclaimed.
In a related matter, Board Vice-President Brian Wieland motioned to once again allow Athena workers to be placed on a volunteer list to receive free entry into the 2015 Fair. Said motion was met with board approval.
The lawyer also spoke on the request made to the Athenas for $13,000, which would be put towards a new electronic lock system for the buildings on the fairgrounds.
According to Wurm, the group simply does not take in the funds necessary to offer such a sizeable gift.
“It was unrealistic,” Wurm confessed, “I can show anyone who wants to see the numbers.”
Those numbers in 2014 saw the Athena Club amass $26,474 over the course of the year, with a majority of that coming from their portion of the donut sales at the Fair.
However, the non-profit organization actually handed out a few hundred dollars more than that to the community, as they answered inquiries for assistance throughout the month of April, with $1,000 of those funds returning to the Fair by way of donation.
Despite being unable to meet the request of the board to cover the costs of the new lock system, Wurm said they are still willing to help pay for the project.
“We are willing to support the lock system with an appropriate donation.”
The offices of the Thaman building will soon have a new employee wandering about. Reigning Fair Queen and recent North Central graduate Kirby Miller, after inquiring about a possible opening, will see her application be reviewed by the Executive Board, where it is expected that the decision to hire her will officially be made. The pay rate for the job has been agreed upon at $10 an hour.
This hiring comes at the perfect time for the board. After realizing that, due to vacant seats on the board, the offices are required to be open for at least thirty hours per week per the Williams County Agricultural Society bylaws, the board was seeking a solution to the issue. Miller’s employment will rectify this problem.
During the course of the meeting, Bennett called for an Executive Session in order to discuss discipline of former personnel. After brief discussion, it was decided that the matter, the details of which were kept private, would be turned over to the Williams County Sheriff’s Office to be investigated further.
T.J. Hug can be reached at