TROY — With Friday’s sweltering humidity and sudden but brief downpour, attendees at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Miami County Fair were grateful for a change of venue.
Normally held in the stadium, this year’s ceremony took place instead in the entertainment tent, kicking off with the presentation of flags, Pledge of Allegiance, and an invocation by Piqua Mayor Kazy Hinds.
“What a wonderful day for Miami County!” Hinds exclaimed following her prayer. She praised the fair as a celebration of “all the talents, all the gifts that our citizens have in Miami County.”
Miami County Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien presided over the ceremony, noting that it was his 40th year coming to the fair. Along with O’Brien, several other county representatives were on hand, including Treasurer Jim Stubbs and Prosecutor Anthony Kendell, as well as such dignitaries as State Sen. Bill Beagle and State Rep. Steve Huffman, among others.
Proclamations were issued by representatives from the offices of Secretary of State Jon Husted; Auditor of State Dave Yost; and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, all of whom wished the crowd a great week at the fair, which runs through Thursday, Aug. 18.
O’Brien introduced a parade of fair royalty, beginning with this year’s fair queen, Megan Troy, 16, of Troy. The daughter of Andrew and Nicole Troy, she will be a senior at Troy High School in the fall. The fair king is 15-year-old Keagan Carsey, also of Troy, who attends Miami East and will exhibit chickens at the fair. Addie Grove, who is showing pigs at the fair, will serve as fair princess. Fair Prince James Burkett, an upcoming second grader from Tipp City, charmed the crowd when he had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone.
Fair manager Jill Wright touched on the hard work that goes into making a fair happen, from the construction of the stadium 100 years ago to the “hours upon hours” spent today planning each year’s event. “Each day will bring blue ribbons, yummy fair food, awesome entertainment, along with fun and fellowship,” she said.
Miami County Agricultural Society President Mike Jess mentioned several entertainment highlights of the 2016 fair — from pig and goat scrambles to truck and tractor pulls to the stadium concert — and elicited laughter from the audience by saying his speech would be kept “short and sweet to beat the heat.”
Following the opening ceremony, a brief press conference by the Miami County Safe Communities Coalition addressed the importance of safe driving — specifically not driving while impaired — in order to prevent death and injuries caused by traffic accidents.
Safe Communities is made up of numerous local health and law enforcement entities including Miami County Public Health, Piqua Health Department the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, and the police departments of Piqua, Tipp City, and West Milton.
“(Safe Communities) does a lot of great things educating the community and promoting traffic safety,” said Chief Deputy Dave Duchak of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
The mangled skeleton of a truck supplied by Dick Lumpkin’s Auto Body drove home the coalition’s message, and underscored its slogan of “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
“We want Miami County residents to realize it’s not worth it to drive drunk,” said Kari Boyle, Safe Communities coordinator and health educator for Miami County Public Health. She suggested several alternatives for those who have had a few too many — having a designated driver, phoning a friend, or using an app called SaferRide. The free app, available for both Android and Apple mobile devices, allows the caller to contact a taxi or friend and identifies their location.
Laura Seger reiterated Boyle’s message, as she knows firsthand the devastating effects that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have. Her son, Joey, was killed six years ago at age 18 by an impaired driver.
“Call a taxi, call a friend, call Uber,” she urged. “Don’t drive impaired. It’s as simple as that.”
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.