Fair board candidate brings youthful agenda

By Jessica Johnston, Reporter

The 172nd annual Muskingum County Fair is underway making it more than 15 decades older than the youngest running fair board member.

Payton Dearth, 20, is running for a 2019 fair board seat. The Philo native has grown up around the fair, which he said gives him a lot of background on the operations.

“I was in 4-H for 14 years,” Dearth said. “I’ve been around it for a long time.”

Dearth ran for fair board in 2017 but lost to another candidate by eight votes, he said.

While he values the board members for being apart of the operation for so long, Dearth said he believes there is a disconnect between the fair board and 4-H. In order to create a closer connection, he wishes to make meetings more publicized and invite 4-H members to present their thoughts on fair operations.

“Without 4-H you have a carnival, not a fair,” he said.

Dearth is a Ohio University Zanesville student studying middle childhood education, as well as a soccer and basketball coach at Philo High School and Philo Junior High School, respectfully.

Many members of the fair board are not as young as Dearth. He said the most challenging aspect he foresees with a seasoned board is trying to open them up to new ideas.

He wants to bring back or implement new entertainment events to add variety, so the fair is not the same every year. In addition, he wants to present other ideas including a contract with a company to maintain the fairgrounds year-round instead of contracting out various people for certain jobs.

Dearth will be present at the fair throughout the week and some of his supporters from 4-H can be found wearing T-shirts to show their support for the young candidate.

Muskingum County Agricultural Society Members will have the opportunity to vote on fair board members in October.

A previous version of this story stated that it was the 72nd annual fair making it five decades older than Dearth.