President:  Clark Swank                                                          Event Coordinator:  Brian Friebel                                                        Fair Manager:  Dean Wells

       Vice President:  Bill Rieman                                                     Secretary:  Vicki DeBolt                                                                    Treasurer:  Shirley Swihart

Carol Toms 419.892.2334 3791 Bascore Rd., Lucas  44843 Monroe
Dave Barnhart 419.347.6795 3307 Hazelbrush Rd., Shelby  44875 Cass
Donna Siebert 419.895.1385 8256 Olivesburg-Fitchville Rd., Greenwich Butler
Ed Cotter 419.709.9156 1550 N Rock Rd., Mansfield  44903 Springfield
Julie Sanders 419.571.9381 3420 Bowman St., Mansfield  44903 Franklin
Kim Kollin 419.886.4453 6469 Clever Rd., Bellville  44813 Jefferson
Loren McKinney 419.884.0887 881 Orchard Park Rd., Lexington  44904 At-Large
Rob Young 419.512.4949 1246 Mayfair Rd., Mansfield  44905 Mansfield
Roy Walter 419.884.1553 125 Plymouth St., Lexington  44904 Troy
Tom Craft 419.747.1130 1219 Poth Rd., Mansfield  44906 At-Large
Angie Swackhammer 419.571.4653 12 Jennings Ct., Shelby  44875 Shelby
Bill Rieman 419.295.5384 1606 N Horning Rd., Crestline  44827 At-Large
Chuck Miller 419.295.5549 5458 Ganges 5 Points Rd., Shelby  44875 Bloominggrove
Dave Fackler 419.565.4387 3523 Hazelbrush Rd., Shelby  44875 At-Large
Dean Wells 419.756.6863 2185 Woodville Rd., Mansfield  44903 Washington
Ed Miller 419.347.7582 2045 Shelby-Ganges Rd., Shelby  44875 Jackson
Steve Spoerr 419.895.1188 2155 St Rt 96 E, Ashland  44805 Weller
Tom Mitchell 419.512.6730 1352 Barbara Ln., Mansfield  44905 Madison
Charles Fisher 419.342.6712 258 W Main St, Shelby  44875 Shelby
Clark Swank 419.565.6686 265 Reeder Rd., Butler  44822 Worthington
Fran Miller 419.347.2898 3974 Henry Rd., Plymouth  44865 Plymouth
Gary Blum 419.683.4727 2487 N Horning Rd., Shelby  44875 Sharon
Howard Harriman 419.571.3989 2765 Springmill Rd., Mansfield  44903 Mifflin
Jason Snyder 419.342.2670 4539 Stine Rd., Shelby  44875 Mansfield
Karen Rieman 419.295.6430 1606 N Horning Rd., Crestline  44827 Sandusky
Richard Spayde 419.989.9338 6890 St Rt 546, Bellville  44813 Perry
 Ex Officio
 County Commissioners:  419.774.5550  Ed Olson, Tim Wert, Gary Utt
 County Extension Agent:  419.747.8755  Judy Villard-Overrocker
 Honorary Fair Board Members  (*Deceased)
 Albert Dunn  Ed Schamber  John Them  Robert H Harvey
 Charles Huston  Freeman Swank*  Leonard Kleilein  Robert Kuhn
 Chris Pataky*  H, Dean Hamman*  R C Kline*  Roscoe Anderson*
 David Culler  Hazel Gray*  Ralph Hulit  Ross B Fackler
 Dwain Swank  Jack Spangler*  Rhea Goetz*  Thomas Glauer
 Ed Eilenfeld, Jr.  Jim Day*  Richardson Harrison*  William Schwartz
 Ed Fishburn  Joe Priess  Richard Herman  


When the first Richland County Fair was held, Zachary Taylor was President of the United States and baseball had been around for only 10 years.  Agriculture as much different in the mid-19th century.  Imagine if you will, no electric milking machines, no tractors and of course no computers to tell us when crops need to be planted.  Today's Richland County Fair is a seven-day event offering entertainment of all kinds, but the first fair was a one-day affair, held on October 26, 1849.  This year's Richland County Fair will be the 164th edition, which makes events like the Kenturky Derby (1874) or the Indianapolis 500 (1911) seem like relative newcomers.  In fact, in 1849, there were only 30 states in the union and Ohio was part of the northwestern part of the nation, not the Midwest.  The Richland County Fair has been at three different Mansfield sites during its long existence.  The first location was at the corner of Bellville and Lexington roads.  Those Roads have since changed names and are now known as South Main Street and Lexington Avenue.  The fair was held at that location in 1865, when gate admission was only 10 cents.  In 1869, the fair was held at a new site on Springmill Street just up from Harker Street.  It remained at that location until 1957.  By the way the Ohio State Fair has not always been held in Columbus.  Mansfield held the event in both 1872 and 1873.

Harness racing was the reason for moving the state fair to Mansfield.  The track at the Springmill Street fairgrounds was considered the best half-mile in the state at the time.  Moving the state fair to Mansfield did not help the county fair, in fact, it hurt considerably.  The agriculture society was forced to sell the grounds in 1875.  However, the fair continued to be held at the Springmill site.  A new society was formed on April 25, 1875, with S.B. Sturges elected as president.  It was decided to drop the word "county" from the title and let the fair be known as "Richland Fair".  The fair had some rough financial times in the late 1800's and early 1900's but remained in operation.  Since 1849, there has been only one year when there was not a fair in Richland County, and that came during one of the darkest periods of American history.  The pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was destroyed in a surprise attack by Japanese on December 7, 1941 and suddenly the country was at war with Japan and its allies, Germany and Italy, President Franklin Roosevelt mandated and the citizens supported the appeal for all of the energy of the country to be devoted to the war effort.  It was decided by the Ohio State Department of Agriculture not to send out any state exhibits to county fairs in the summer of 1942.  Later that same year. there was more bad news for the fair board as the grandstand at the Springmill fairgrounds burned for the final time on November 29, 1942.  In 1943, no senior fair was held, only a Junior Fair, which remained the case until 1954.

Shortly after the grandstand burned, talk began about moving the fair to a new location.  The State Department of Agriculture told the county fair board if they wanted to again host a senior fair they should move to a better and larger location.  Years of heated discussion followed, with at least one board member voting not to move.  Finally, On August 30, 1955, the fair board voted to sell the Springmill property in order to purchase ground for a new fairgrounds.  The first fair to be held on the current site on Home Road was in 1957.  That decision ushered in what might be referred to as the modern age of the Richland County Fair.  There really wasn't much to the fairgrounds that first year except tents.  Only five building stood on the grounds:  the Lantz Road, also the bank barn, a pole building a poultry building and a restroom facility.  The restroom building was later converted into the senior fair entries office in 1984.  The pole building, meanwhile has been used for a number of exhibits during fair time over the years.  They include: youth, merchant, and agriculture displays.  Currently, the building is used to house both diary and beef cattle.  The poultry building has remained just that, a poultry building, since it was rebuilt in early 1957 after being moved from the Springmill Street site.  The next year the current swine and sheep barn was constructed.  This particular building has undergone a number of renovations in 40 years, including the building of a new show arena in 1984 and the inclusion of a cement door in 1989.  The Youth Building-Cafeteria complex was built in 1961, originally used not for youth, but merchant displays.  Since its construction, this building has been the main base of operation of the Fairhaven Auxiliary, which has operated its cafeteria here every year since 1961.  They paid for the addition of restrooms in 1971 and an updated kitchen in 1994.

In 1964 the fair board put up seven new buildings at the cost of only $41,000.00.  All of these buildings were used for animal exhibits.  They are as follows: junior swine and sheep barns parallel to the existing senior swine and sheep facilities, senior and junior beef barns, a dairy barn plus barns for horses, ponies and goats.  As we have already said, 40 years brings a lot of changes and these buildings are no different.  Now pay attention, this may get confusing and there will be a quiz later.... The junior swine and sheep barn now houses our always curious buddies, the goats.  The original senior beef barn hosts the Junior Fair activity program and was renovated to include public restrooms, a drooped ceiling, and air conditioning in 1994.  It is named in honor of long time board member and 4-H leader John Hartz.  The dairy building is now used to show off part of the large draft horse display, meanwhile the original goat barn now provides shelter for our furry friends, the rabbits. Senior sheep have now taken over the former junior beef barn.  But that's not bad news for the cattle, since a new steer barn was built in 1991.  The horse and pony barns are the only ones to be used for the same purpose they were built for in the 60's.