With tears in his eyes, retiring Clark County Fair executive director Allan Hess was honored Saturday at the opening ceremony and inducted into the Clark County Honor Roll.
“This fairgrounds means a lot to this community,” Hess said. “About 70 percent of tourism in Clark County is generated by the fairgrounds.”
Hess had participated in Short Circuits and 4-H camp when he was younger and continues to emphasize the impact those organizations have in the community and how valuable the fair is for economic and personal reasons.
Hess graduated from Tecumseh High School in 1965 and went into the Army, leaving in 1971. After that, he worked with various theme parks during his time at a consulting firm. He returned to Clark County to accept the executive director’s position at the fair in 1995.
Volunteers and government officials alike congratulated Hess on his hard work in such a demanding position. New executive director Dean Blair thanked Hess for his community service for the last 21 years.
“Just when I think I know everything about the fair, there’s always something I miss,” Blair said. “I don’t know how this transition would have happened without (Allan).”
Blair is excited to start his new role and continue to improve the fair, including transforming the 100-acre lake into an agricultural area.
“We will do some great things with the lake,” Blair said. “That will make this a unique fair.”
Clark County Senior Fair Board member Jay Flax also addressed the upgrades made under Hess’ jurisdiction.
He helped make electrical upgrades at the campgrounds, tear down the hangers at the front of the fairgrounds, build new storage facilities and pave the way for future expansion.
Not only did the ceremony celebrate the opportunities for the fair but also for the youth programs at the fair, like 4-H and Future Farmers of America. FFA state president Matthew Klopfenstien talked about the importance of maintaining youth organizations such as these.
“It prepares them for future careers … (and) gives them a chance to be responsible,” Klopfenstien said.
The community presented Hess with a plaque and a director’s chair with his name. Hess thanked everyone for the dedication.
“I’m sure you’ll see me around,” Hess said.