By Wayne Gates –
It was a good year for the Brown County Fair.
Brown County Agricultural Society Secretary Juanita Barricklow said that attendance was up over the past two years.
“When the weather is nice, Brown County comes to the fair. It’s a homecoming as much as anything. You hear people talk about how they met people they hadn’t seen for years. It was a great fair.”
Barricklow said that the weather the last three days of the fair was perfect, which helped boost attendance.
Now that the gates are closed for the 2017 fair, Barricklow said that the fair board was already looking to 2018.
“We like something new every year. We are trying really hard to get the Budweiser eight horse hitch here next year, which are the big Clydesdale horses,” she said.
The 2018 Brown County Fair will run from Sept. 24-29.
Barricklow also said that the fair board wanted to thank everyone who gave of their time to make the event a success.
“We just want to say a great big thank you to all the volunteers. I don’t have any idea how many we have, but we couldn’t do this without them. The fair belongs to them and the people of Brown County as much as it does to us.”
Many of those volunteers helped with one of the biggest events of fair week,
Thousands of people gathered on the evening of Sept. 28 to honor local veterans and the country they served.
Veteran Rick Rhodes directed the program, which included Chaplain Bill Graybill, Brown County Sheriff Gordon Ellis and Brown County Juvenile Probate Judge Danny Bubp.
Ellis is currently serving as a Brigadier General in the Ohio National Guard and Bubp is a retired Colonel from the United States Marine Corps.
Ohio Director of Veteran’s Services Chip Tansill also spoke at the ceremony.
As the ceremony unfolded, members of the Heroes Tribute group,along with Brown County Senior Fair Board Vice President Bill Neal, spoke to the crowd about bringing the traveling Vietnam memorial wall to the fairgrounds last May.
“We were very proud to supply the grounds and facilities and anything we could, but the wall committee did the work,” said Neal.
“It was two years in the making and a big project. We all realize that if it was not for the veterans that are here today and those who are not here, we wouldn’t be having the fair.”
Heroes Tribute member Pearl Dyer spoke about the lasting impact of the traveling wall.
“Over 1700 students from throughout the county came through here. 1700 kids that experienced living history and 1700 kids that learned what heroes are really about,” she said.
Dyer then said reminded the crowd about the sacrifices made by Vietnam veterans.
“There are 58,000 names on the wall in Washington, D.C. There are seven names on that wall from Brown County. Seven heroes that belong to us. Their names, Charles Hugh Crawford, Jan Bernard Wahl, Thomas Glenn DeFosse, Joe Franklin Evans, David Lee Bingaman, Millard Preston Wheeler and Danny Raymond King. We need to remember these names, their stories and their sacrifices,” Dyer said.
A permanent memorial in the style of the Vietnam memorial wall with the names of seven Brown County soldiers who died has been placed by the fairgrounds flagpole.
Ellis then spoke and talked about the sacrifices made by military members overseas, and introduced a soldier that was injured by enemy fire in 2012.
Bubp took the microphone at that point and introduced 95 Robert Louis Bingaman of Ripley.
Bingaman stood up, assisted by his son Wayne and grandson Robbie as Bubp told the crowd about the Bronze Star that Bingaman was awarded when fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
“For meritorious achievement in ground combat against the armed enemy. He also got another decoration called the purple heart, for wounds received in Belgium in 1945,” Bubp said.
“We couldn’t be prouder of you, sir. You are a Brown Countian and we recognize you, and we honor you.”
Bubp also recognized World War II veterans Ernest Wilson, Johnny Hirons, Roy Griffin, Herman Jesse, David Damon, Rudy Hamlin, Jim Hanselman who were attending the ceremony.
Tansill addressed the crowd following Bubp and spoke about the difficulties faced by Vietnam veterans after the war.
“They came home and they were treated poorly. So those Vietnam veterans did everything they could so that we veterans who served after them would be treated well when we returned home,” Tansill said.
Following the ceremony, Tansill talked about the veteran’s ceremony.
“In a county with a small population like Brown County, to see that number of veterans and family members turn out was very significant,” Tansill said.
“It was very heartwarming to see the emotion and the fact that people love our flag and love what we do.”
Ellis also talked about the emotional impact of the event.
“I don’t think you can watch a ceremony like that and not be touched by the years upon years of faithful service to the country that you see on display here. You have to love the people of Brown County because you can see the heartfelt appreciation that they have for their veterans.”