Fair board honors Martins in emotional ceremony

Fair board honors Martins in emotional ceremony
Dave Mast

Dave and Diane Martins’ daughters Kendra, left, Kayla and Keisha were gracious to the large crowd of people who turned out to honor the memory of their parents during a tree-planting ceremony at Harvest Ridge on Monday, Aug. 7.


Memories of the Holmes County Fair can come complete with many different emotions, from elation to winning a junior fair showmanship award, to the excitement of flying through the air on one of the carnival rides, to the exhilaration of the grandstand’s bevy of events.

One particular moment during the 2023 Holmes County Fair elicited a range of emotions, most of them setting off tears of remembrance and celebration of two lives gone too soon.

On Monday, Aug. 7 at Harvest Ridge, family, friends and a large crowd of people took time to honor the lives of David and Diane Martin, both of whom were instrumental in the Holmes County Fair for many years.

While Diane Martin passed away in 2015, David passed away Dec. 16, 2022, and the Holmes County Senior Fair Board wanted to honor the Martins because of their dedication to the fair and their commitment to serving their community.

They chose to do so in the planting of a Canadian red cherry tree that was planted on the hillside on the south side of the big red barn.

“I think this is a true tribute to David and Diane to have this many people come here for this moment,” said Kerry Taylor, president of the Holmes County Senior Fair Board, who was choked up with emotion in dedicating the tree as a memorial. “It’s an honor to do this today, and I’m not going to talk long because it’s hard to talk.”

During a prayer senior fair board member Kim Kellogg said everyone was grateful for the life the Martins lived, the example they set for their children and grandchildren, and for the legacy they left behind.

The Martins’ three daughters Keisha, Kayla and Kendra participated in the honorary ceremony, each taking a turn shoveling dirt around the tree that was adorned by a marble marker honoring the Martins.

In addition, many other family and friends took their turn adding to the mulch around the tree, and in the midst of the moment, there were plenty of tears, along with many fond memories of David and Diane. Included in the occasion were four grandsons: Maddox and Brayson, who belong to Keisha, and Baker and Barrett, who belong to Kayla.

There were far too many hugs shared to count and many tears shared with family and friends during the dedication, and Keisha Martin said they were honored and grateful to everyone who came to dedicate the tree to her parents.

“We’re going to do everything we can from here on out to honor Mom and Dad and remember them every chance we get,” Keisha Martin said. “It feels so good to know that (David) was remembered and loved as much as we think he deserves to be. He poured his heart and soul into this place the past number of years. We’re thankful to the fair board. They’ve been there for us through it all.”

She said the impact her dad made on the fair board members, all who attended the fair and especially the family was incredible.

Perhaps the greatest honor one could bestow on David came courtesy of his grandson Maddox, on whom David had made a large impression when it comes to serving the community and being part of the fair.

“The other day Maddox said, ‘I think I want to work at the fair someday like Papi,’” Keisha Martin said. “I told him, ‘You got it dude. I guarantee we can make that happen.’”

All three girls said their commitment to continuing to help the fair any way they can is important to them because it was important to their parents.

As for the huge turnout, all three girls were nervous because of the reported storms that could blow through any time that afternoon, but the heavens yielded and gave way to bright skies for the ceremony.

“It’s amazing to see the love and support they received,” Keisha Martin said. “We can’t express enough how grateful we are for all the support.”

The three sisters said this tree, along with the picnic table, bench and plaque near the home arts building in memory of Diane, who was instrumental in that show at the fair for many years, will now be annual gathering spots where they can unite and celebrate their parents and the love they shared.

“Every year since we lost Mom, we’ve come back here with our husbands and sons and taken a picture to document it, and this will add to what we do every year and made a tradition,” Keisha Martin said.

Kellogg said the tree will bloom white in the spring. Then as the weather turns, the leaves will turn burgundy.

“It’s a beautiful way to honor and remember two people who were so important to their family and to their community,” Kellogg said.

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