The 2013 Friends of the Fair are the
By Jason Pohl
A lot of work goes in to putting together one of the country’s largest fairs – just ask this year’s Fair Board President Terry Sandmeier. Long hours, backbreaking work and community outreach are seemingly endless, especially in the lead-up to the weeklong festival.
Rising to the top of 2013’s most influential organizations and groups, this year’s Friends of the Fair honor went to the Weld County Commissioners for their efforts in engaging the area’s youth and promoting Weld’s crowning event – year after year.
“We picked the commissioners because they are very supportive -- they’re really concerned about making sure that we have a great fair and give back to the community,” Sandmeier said.
It’s support he said is often overlooked – or ignored altogether.
Sandmeier remembered being taken aback at a recent Colorado Fair Association meeting by how little other local governments actually work with the fair boards and community to ensure the event is the strongest possible.
“A lot of their commissioners aren’t nearly as supportive and in many cases just don’t even help them at all,” Sandmeier said, praising the commissioners’ work to improve facilities near Island Grove Regional Park while increasing community engagement. “We realize how important it is that our county commissioners are so willing to help.”
Among those most involved in the fair over the years, he said, has been Commissioner Bill Garcia, who recently worked as commissioner coordinator with the fair – a rotating position held by different members of the board each year. Garcia praised the improvements the fair has made over the years, transforming from a traditional livestock event to a full-blown hub for children – and adult – involvement. Whether attending a horse show or, as he remembers, being wowed at the fiddle fest, there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a chance to celebrate the agriculture heritage of the area,” he said. “All we’re doing is doing our job and giving support where needed. It’s a great honor … it’s just easy for us to want to support the fair.”
Growing up in Louisville, Ky., he remembered going to 4-H camp and doing the typical activities like rowing and leather crafting. That changed when he moved to Weld County and got involved in the fair, occasionally judging events and more often managing the finances.
It’s a passion that runs deep, he said, and now remains active in the fair, now with his 8-year-old daughter’s 4-H projects.
Though the Board of County Commissioners being named Friends of the Fair was humbling, Garcia said the true recognitions should really go to everyone who makes the Weld County Fair happen each summer.
“The thing that people don’t see,” he said, “is there is such a huge amount of involvement in volunteer time to put the fair on. There really is something for everyone.”