The 2019 Franklin County Agricultural Fair is coming, and that means volunteers are needed.
Franklin County’s Tourism Director David Rotenizer said, on average, it takes approximately 112 volunteers to staff the four-day event.
“Keep in mind, this is just to man key event operation,” Rotenizer said. “Other organizations, which are part of the fair also utilize volunteers – such as Antique Farm Days, Agri-Zoo, competitive exhibits, tractor and garden tractor pulls, the horse show and so on.”
Even some of the food and non-food vendors use volunteers.
Rotenizer said volunteers who work the Ag Fair are a “community of dedicated and civic-minded folks who bring out the best in Franklin County.”
He explained that the cost is too great to employ staff, and volunteers help keep the cost of the fair down.
“If you stop and think about it, the admission and cost for wristbands is a bargain for a local, wholesome, family-friendly entertainment opportunity,” he said.
For their efforts, volunteers receive a sweet perk — free admission to the fair. Each volunteer shift lasts six hours. For each shift worked, volunteers can receive two free VIP wristbands that include admission and unlimited ride access during any one day of the fair.
Volunteer opportunities fall within four specific categories: the wristband tent, the merchandise tent, the ticket booth or survey collection.
Rotenizer said the wristband tent is likely the most important post because it requires checking to ensure visitors have tickets and those who have purchased a ride ticket must redeem for a ride wristband – which the volunteer will apply. These volunteers also hand out schedules for those who want them, help provide directions and answer questions.
Merchandise and ticket sale tents are just that — selling tickets and merchandise. The survey collection helps fair officials learn more about the interests and concerns of those visiting the fair.
“We conduct random intercept surveys during the fair – that is, the canvasser goes up to the fair goer and asks specific questions,” Rotenizer said. “Also, we want to know what did they like and how could we make the event better in the future.”
There are other opportunities to assist during the fair, such as helping to coordinate volunteers, assisting with the musical entertainment and providing support before the fair. “I refer to these as our super volunteers,” Rotenizer said.
One such volunteer is Diane Cannaday. The retired Franklin County Public School teacher has been overseeing the educational programs with fair for the past six years, though she said she has been involved behind the scenes since before the fair began.
“I have found her passion, dedication and loyalty to be both inspiring and motivating,” Rotenizer said. “She possesses the attitude – and backs it up through action – with what is required to pull off a community event like this.”
Cannaday said 500 students visit during each of the fair’s four days. During those visits, students from the high school career and tech programs present to elementary school students about agriculture, including animals.
“It is so rewarding to see the faces on the young children as they are being taught by the teenagers,” Cannaday said, adding that’s what keeps her involved with the fair.
She said she feels there is a misconception about what is required of volunteers or what they may be asked to do or how much time they may have to commit.
“My advice would be if you have time and you have a love for agriculture or a love for children, just call and see what you can do,” Cannaday said. “Don’t be afraid you have to get in too deep.”
Volunteers make the fair possible, and those who have participated in the past have seemed to enjoy it, Rotenizer said. “One thing I have picked up on over the past few years is the apparent sense of gratification volunteers seem to experience,” he said. “Their attitude and smile seems to say it all – just like those attending the event. This is what it is all about – it provides yet another quality of life reason to make Franklin County a great place to live, work and play.”
For information about how to volunteer for the fair visit www.fcagfair.com.