Morrow County’s 2016 firework display sponsored and held annually by the Morrow County Agricultural Society will not be held this year due to inadequate funding and support.

While the annual OSTPA Tractor Pulls, Frog Jumping contest and Square Dancing on July 3 will still take place, the firework spectacular will not. According to Fair Board President, Brandon Strain, necessary maintenance and safety improvements to the fair grounds and buildings have severely limited funds that would normally have been spent on fireworks.

“We are disappointed that our annual firework display is not possible this year,” he said. “This was a decision that was not easy to make, but in an effort to be financially responsible, with our limited funding, we as a board made the decision to spend our available resources on improvements to our facilities and grounds.”

Major renovations, including a new roof on the main show arena, new interior and exits lights, new water lines to arena and surrounding barns; new electric on the south end of fairgrounds, new sidewalk at the youth building making this facility now handicapped accessible; and the replacement of the grandstand bleachers. An Ohio Department of Agricultural grant of fifty thousand and generous one time gift from the Morrow County Commissioners have lessened the financial burden of over one hundred thousands dollars for these needed improvements for the Fair Board. Annually, Morrow County receives the mandated Ohio Revised Code gift of $2,400 from the County Commissioners. The Agricultural Society relies solely on the vendor fees, rentals and gate admissions to meet their general budget.

Private citizens and the Fair Board have reached out, unsuccessfully, to several local businesses and individuals for sponsorships of July 3 event. In addition, several sponsorships packages are available for the 2016 Morrow County Fair.

In an effort to raise awareness and support of the fair, the agricultural society is looking for ideas and suggestions to improve the annual event. County Fairs originally created as a showplace for recently harvested crops and livestock raised by youth remains the focus in Morrow County.

This concept is reflected in the 2016 Junior Fair theme, “Country Pride, County Wide”. County Citizens are invited to participate in a fair tee shirt design for 2016. “We encourage the support of county residents and welcome their input and suggestions for improving our fair.” Commented Fair Secretary, Mary Weiler.

All tee-shirt submissions should include The Junior Fair theme, fair dates of August 29- September 5, 2016 and Morrow County Fair. The tee shirt sponsor will award $100 to the winning design and will be featured on the sponsored tee that will be distributed throughout the summer. Please contact the Fair office at [email protected] or our Facebook page for more information. Digital entries must be received by June 24 for consideration.

“We need to keep the agricultural heritage of our fair alive,” Strain said. “There isn’t a lot of money for this, so developing partnerships and working together as a county and community is important.”

By LeAnne Gompf

The Sentinel