Help wanted: The Delaware County Agricultural Society is seeking a new general manager.
“I’m not resigning,” said current general manager William Lowe. “I told the fair board that they need to find a younger person that can take the position into the future. I can help train that person and then step away. I haven’t given them any time restriction other than it’s time to be looking for somebody.”
Lowe, who will soon turn 70, has been the county fair manager for 23 years.
“We’d like to have someone step into the position and be here 15, 20 years,” he said. “Like any position, it takes a while to acclimate yourself to all the nuances of this business, and then the other thing is it’s only eight days of the year.”
In addition to the annual Delaware County Fair, the position oversees the other events that take place throughout the year on the 150-acre fairgrounds, including flea markets, horse sales and horse shows.
An advertisement for the position has appeared in The Gazette in recent weeks.
“The position serves as the manager of all buildings, grounds, events and employees of the Delaware County Agricultural Society and all functions of the Delaware County Fair,” the ad reads. “This position is under the general direction of the full board acting through its majority vote.”
“We need somebody with some management and business skills,” Lowe said. “It would be helpful to be familiar with who we do business with, but that’s not a job-killer. The important thing is finding the right person.”
The variety of the position — handling entertainers, sports enthusiasts, fair vendors, and maintenance workers, as well as running a “horse hotel” — is one of the things Lowe has enjoyed about the job.
“I’ve also met a lot of wonderful people both on and off the board,” he said.
There is also work to be done to the grounds, though.
“The biggest challenge that this fair faces is aging facilities and infrastructure,” Lowe said. “The issues we have up here is crumbling roads, buildings that need roofed or sided, needs painted. The grandstand needs a lot of work, electric upgrades. There’s an endless list.”
Some of the buildings at the fairgrounds date back to 1938, and others were constructed in the early 1950s. Earlier this year, the county and city provided assistance to repair water lines at the fairgrounds, a project that will continue into 2016.
A few weeks ago, Delaware County commissioners approved putting a five-year, 3-percent lodging tax increase on the March 15 ballot. If passed by voters, the fair would receive an estimated $190,000 annually, which would be used on repairs.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get this hotel bed tax passed,” Lowe said. “That will give us revenues to start working on the issues that we have. Upgraded facilities will attract more potential renters and events. One of the advantages this fairground has is it is centrally located in Ohio, and we get inquiries because we’re two hours from anywhere in the state.”
Lowe said he will continue to serve as secretary to the agricultural and Little Brown Jug societies.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.