While Huron County 4-Hers spend thousands of hours collectively working on various projects, many people donate hundreds of hours each summer getting the fairgrounds all spruced up for the annual fair.
Most volunteers work on regular maintenance projects or flowers, but at least one group has raised almost $12,000 to pay for a major addition. The Horse Council, spurred on by a suggestion of the Rocking H 4-H club, has worked since last summer to buy and install a new two-story announcer's booth for the Weisenberger Arena.
Amanda Moore, president of the council and also an advisor for Rocking H, said the old booth was more than 100 years old and had originally been the top portion of a tower used at the main grandstands. "It served various purposes around the fairgrounds for years," she said, "but it's come to the end of a useful life."
The new stands, which will sit on a concrete slab, has a 12 by 24 first story with room for storage and a 10 by 12 second story. A big advantage, Moore explained, is the new booth is enclosed with windows across the front and can be locked. That means the building will be secure and all supplies won't have to moved out each night.
Her club started out with the idea and a $150 donation last summer, Moore said, and then 4-Hers across the county got busy with fundraising. "Through the generosity of businesses, individuals and 4-H members, we've paid for the building," she said. The council still is trying to raise money to furnish the inside of the building and working on a 'wish list,'" she added.
Though many in the area contributed, Moore said, Verizon Wireless and Price Family Properties made it possible to get the new booth in just a year.
Another new structure at the fairgrounds is a permanent food booth recently built by Bellevue FFA. That group, which has served food at the fair for years, has a new building between the sheriff's department and the pony barn to better serve customers.
Staffers at the fairgrounds said the place had been busy with many groups taking on various maintenance projects.
Hartland Scramblers decided to make painting at the fairgrounds their community project for the first time this year, said advisor Jeanette Ott. The club had 19 members, five parents and three advisors spend a day painting the Cloverbud building, the steps leading to the grandstands and the fair board's concession stand under the grandstand.
The club has decided to make work at the fairgrounds or at Camp Conger an annual project. "Community service is great, but especially for the fairgrounds that everyone can enjoy or at camp for all the kids to enjoy," she said. "We've made a commitment this year that we want to do something significant either at camp or at the fairgrounds each year."
Hartland New Horizons painted the main fence for the fairgrounds this summer. Advisor Steve Zimmerman, also a fair board member, said he looks for a project at the fairgrounds each summer for the club. "We always try to get a project at the fairgrounds every year," he said. "You're part of the county fair so you try to make it nice for everyone."
Working on a community service project also builds on concepts that are taught in 4-H, he added. "The kids all have fun," Zimmerman said, that could be measured by the amount of silver paint that ended up on the kids instead of the fence. But community service also teaches the young people to work together and be responsible, he added.
Town and Country club had 30 4-Hers and 10 adults to clean up the many wooden benches that dot the fairgrounds. Advisor Joan Deeble said the group tries to help out each year at the fairgrounds and had cleaned and sealed the benches a few years also.
Other groups that improved the fairgrounds this summer are the Huron County Junior Dairy Club, which painted the junior fair dairy barn; Country Kids club, which painted the front ticket booths; Classy Clovers, which decorated trash cans; and Hartland Haybusters, which set up the goat barn. Since the goat barn is used for storage after the fair the stalls must be re-built each year.
Hartland Haybusters also helps out by decorating the goat barn each year and has added the draft horse barn to its list for this year. "We had extra flowers," advisor Diane Sergalis said.
Those plants will join with the vibrant blooms of red cana and flowers of every other shape and size to delight fairgoers.
Mary Margaret Schwarzentraub heads up one of the groups from the Huron County Master Gardeners Association that takes care of the heritage area at the fairgrounds. Members take care of plots surrounding the house, an herb garden and flowers at the Little Red Schoolhouse.
While other club members were painting and sprucing up different areas of the fairgrounds earlier this summer, cloverbud members in the Hartland Scramblers club planted five pots with flowers to decorate the area near the steer and lamb barns.
Ott said Kathy Weber, of Weber Farms in Wakeman, donated the plants. The group planted them earlier this summer and will take them out to the fairgrounds and take care of them there. Allowing even the youngest members to feel that they've done something nice for the fairgrounds is important, Ott said.
Others who donate work on landscaping are Town & Country, Monroeville & Country, Desparadoes, Roughriders, Bronc Busters, Wakeman Wranglers, Ripley Nifty Needlers and Cookers, Busy Needles, Christie Lane Garden Club, Greenwich Country Cornhuskers, Ridgefield Country Kids, Bits and Pieces, Clover Patch Kids, John and Mindy Borsick and Randy Eschen.