Holmes County Fair livestock committee surveying its way to an even better 2021

Holmes County Fair livestock committee surveying its way to an even better 2021
Jim Miller

While the grand champion and reserve champion animals were shown into the ring at this year's Holmes County Junior Fair Livestock Sale, most youth did not bring their animals into the ring for the annual auction.


While Holmes County Fairgrounds at Harvest Ridge may sit white, cold and dormant right now, the inner workings of what makes the Holmes County Fair tick continue to move forward.

Recently, the Holmes County Fair Junior Livestock Sale Committee sent out surveys to the area businesses and individuals who have supported the junior fair by purchasing livestock over the past years.

The fair board and sale committee as a whole stated how difficult the past year has been and how it has been able to overcome many of those challenges through teamwork, hard work and the support of the community, for which it expressed sincere gratitude.

This past year has seen Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio State Department of Health pass many mandates to try to stem the rise of COVID-19 cases, and those orders kept fairs in flux throughout the year.

The members of the board, committee and community came together and found ways to overcome a perceived meat shortage, growing concerns over a possible fair shutdown and more, and in the end the fair board presented a junior fair that was quite similar to every other in the past years.

Sale committee representative Craig Houin was highly involved in creating the recent survey, and he said the survey is outside the norm of what they usually do, but with some key changes taking place at last year’s fair, now was the time to explore what people truly would like to see take place at the livestock sale.

“There is a lot of new technology coming out and a lot of ways we can make adjustments to make the sale more efficient and even better, and at the same time even more personable,” Houin said. “That’s the goal of the survey. What are ways people communicate now and how can we encourage more people to participate in the sale?”

The survey itself was designed to bring greater insight into how the fair board and livestock sale committee can improve on what is already a high-quality junior fair livestock sale. Holmes County has always been viewed as putting on a fair that not only provides youth with an avenue to sell their livestock, but also is innovative and supported greatly by the community.

The letter talked about how the fair members take pride in setting a high standard around the state in terms of creating a top-notch junior livestock fair, and this type of letter shows a group that is focused on finding every possible avenue of strengthening its already quality sale.

“We have a tremendously successful junior livestock sale, but we don’t ever want it to get stale. The buyers’ survey will help us better understand, through the eyes of the buyers’ perspective, how we can best update and change things to make their livestock sale buying experience as good as possible,” Houin said. “They are really the people who make our sale a success because of the incredible way they support our kids and the great effort they put into raising their animals.”

The hope is they get a fair amount of feedback from the survey so the sale committee can find out what the community truly wants to see from the fair as it moves forward.

“We want to be proactive with the fair,” Houin said. “When we just rely on tradition, we tend to miss out on some things that can make our sale even better.”

The pros and cons of the questions involved in the survey will be mixed, and Houin said they have already seen differences in what both buyers and the 4-Hers want, even among the senior and junior fair board and livestock sale committee members.

While not having animals in the ring during the sale, it was more efficient behind the scenes, but in actual time of the sale, it barely made an impact. Houin said they have heard from people who want to see the animals, despite many fairs moving away from that tradition.

Then there are the youth showing the animals. Houin said that is their last hurrah with an animal they have invested a great deal of time. That can be an emotional time, many 4-Hers creating a bond with their animals.

The survey is about collecting the audience’s thoughts and taking that input to move toward an even better livestock sale next year.

With the sale committee meeting later in January, Houin said the hope is they get all of the surveys back by Jan. 8.

“We are excited about breaking this thing down to present it to the fair board in hopes that it all benefits the kids and the buyers. Our fair is one week a year, but obviously there is so much work that goes into the fair all year around,” Houin said. “You just can’t spontaneously have a great fair out of nowhere. So much work goes into the details of getting ready. There’s a lot of effort that goes into it, and we all want the fair to be as great as it can be for everyone involved.”

If someone didn’t get a survey but would like to add input, they can email Houin at cahouin@icloud.com and he will get them a survey.

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