Shelby County Fair attendance up 3,000

By JAN GRIFFEY/Editor

COLUMBIANA — This year’s Shelby County Fair — its 61st — was bittersweet for all involved.

This fair was the first in more than five decades without the good works of Columbiana’s John Jones.

Jones, who died unexpectedly last fall, was fair manager for more than 23 years and had been involved in the fair for about 55 years.

Jones left big shoes to fill, but fill them, they did, said this year’s fair committee chairman, Michael Letlow.

“It was a tough year, not having John around. There were a few things that he had in his head that we didn’t know about, but nothing major. We worked through everything that came up,” Letlow said.

Jones would have been proud. Attendance was up more than 3,000 people over last year, though it was about 1,500 short of the fair’s 61-year average.

“We were satisfied with that number, considering the shape of the economy. We had a good week. Having no rain help us a lot,” he said.

Letlow said a committee of fair volunteers began about three years ago, “following John around and getting stuff organized and documented for the time he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. That got us through this year. We probably had 95 to 98 percent of everything documented. If not for that, we wouldn’t have known where to start.”

The annual fair is sponsored by the Kiwanis clubs of Columbiana and Chelsea. Proceeds from the fair to go help Shelby County youth.