Fair board dedicates new pavilion at Harvest Ridge

Fair board dedicates new pavilion at Harvest Ridge
Dave Mast

The Eli and Gloria Yoder family has been a huge supporter of Holmes County 4-H and the Holmes County Fair over the years. Their contributions helped the new Harvest Ridge Fairgrounds take shape, and their most recent donation led to the creation of the Eli and Gloria Yoder Family Pavilion.


Since the Harvest Ridge Fairgrounds jumped into gear in 2015, the community has helped to create what many feel is one of the nicest fairgrounds in the state.

While the huge projects are now complete, the community continues to step up and make more additions.

The latest was the new cement padding sidewalk and most importantly the Eli and Gloria Yoder Family Pavilion, which was built on funds that were all donated by community members.

The biggest donor was Eli and Gloria Yoder, owners of Yoder’s Restaurant who already had donated a large amount when the fairgrounds were being built. When they received a call about the fairgrounds wanting to build a pavilion to replace the large tent that was there last year, they did what they always do and gave.

“We didn’t think about it long after we heard they wanted one,” Gloria Yoder said. “We think this is a good legacy for the fair and for all of you to enjoy. We would like to thank all of the other ones who helped. We didn’t do this alone. It took a lot of helping hands, and when you put all of your hands together, it can be very strong, and this is the proof."

Mel Wengerd’s company, Hickory Circle, was tabbed as the company to construct the pavilion, and on Monday, Aug. 5, the first day of the fair, a large crowd turned out to dedicate it.

During the dedication, Mark Lonsinger, public relations director at Harvest Ridge, said it takes civic-minded people who want to do civic-minded things for their community to make something like this a reality.

“We are so blessed that we have so many of those types of people,” Lonsinger said.

Eli and Gloria Yoder and their family were honored for their contribution that spearheaded the effort to build the new pavilion next to the garden the Yoder family created for the fairgrounds.

“We are just glad that we have been blessed with the ability to help do something like this for the community and for the kids,” Gloria Yoder said.

That was important because Kerry Taylor, Holmes County Fair board president, said the board’s effort to build a pavilion would not move forward until it had the funding in donations and in-kind to complete the project.

“One thing that we said was that this had to be built with 100 percent donated money, material and labor,” Taylor said. “We have some debt, and we want to get that debt taken care of. We are still in the process of doing some fundraising to help cover that debt, so it was important to us and to the stakeholders we owe money to that we didn’t spend any money out of our own pocket. It is a great pleasure to say that 100 percent of this is donated.”

Taylor thanked the Yoders and many others who had donated to make the pavilion a reality.

“This is one of the final pieces of the puzzle for us,” Taylor said of the new addition. “This is a benefit not just for the Holmes County Fair, but all year round, and Eli and Gloria have been such an asset to the fair in supporting our 4-H and FFA youth. They have stepped up in a very big way.”

Eli Yoder said one telling moment came when they visited the fair last year. “We did talk about the tent that was here and agreed that there was no way that fit in with what we wanted to have at the fairgrounds,” he said.

A former 4-Her, Gloria Yoder understands the value of what 4-H brings to the county, and her love for the fair and seeing it succeed is a driving force behind the Yoder family’s decision.

“This fair is very important to me and to all of us, and I think [the fair] is a good chance for the children to show what they can do," Gloria Yoder said. “4-H is something that really sets the pace for their future and what they want to do as a career, and it helps breed responsibility and character in our young people.”

Taylor also ran through a lengthy list of donors who donated funds, labor or material that made the pavilion possible. That included cash donations of $68,744 and in-kind donations of approximately $15,700.

“We are very thankful as a fair board, and on behalf of the fair board, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Taylor said. “You made this project go, and what an asset it is going to be for years to come.”

In addition they were able to provide 18 picnic tables, plus benches that also were paid for by donors. If the pavilion was the cake, the icing came in the form of Dan Schlabach, owner of Wild Ridge, which built a number of picnic tables and benches for the pavilion at a heavily discounted price. Each table has the donor of the table engraved into its top.

“We wanted to do 15 [tables], but we weren’t sure we would be able to sell them all and get them here for the fair,” Taylor said. “Dan was just going to bring blank ones out for the fair and change them later. We sold 18 before the fair.”

The pavilion quickly became another addition to the grounds, and it didn’t take long for it to fill up with people eating food and taking a time of relaxation from the sun, something this structure will do for decades to come.

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