New fair manager is no stranger to Marion County

Fair is July 23-26

Staff reporter

She's come full circle.

For the past 22 years, Stephanie (Goossen) Richmond has attended the Marion County Fair. Last year, she served on the Marion County Fair Board.

And now, she is doing what seems to come natural to her. Richmond has stepped into the position of Marion County Fair Manager.

Since that appointment, the fair office has moved from downtown Hillsboro to the fairgrounds. By doing so, the fair board will save $8,000 per year.

Richmond knows there are challenges ahead of her.

"Our goals are to increase attendance and provide more entertainment," she said. "We're wanting to get away from the 'same old thing'."

Marion County Fair, like other small fairs, has experienced lower attendance and participation because there are more activities for youth other than 4-H and the fair. New events and exhibits are being planned to attract more people.

Including the entire county is another challenge.

"Some people consider this to be the Hillsboro fair instead of the county fair," Richmond said. "We want to change that."

By using the Marion County Economic Development Council web site, more information is available to all county residents and visitors, Richmond said.

This year's theme is "Dog-gone Fun!" and will feature an agility competition as part of the dog show. The contest has been part of the fair in the past and should provide a challenge for exhibitors and entertain and impress spectators, Richmond said.

Other new events include a duct tape contest where contestants are given contest rules and instruction at 7 p.m. July 24, then they have 24 hours to create an entry. Judging will be at 8 p.m. the following night.

"Kansas State Fair also is having the contest," Richmond said, with the winner of the Marion County competition going on to the state fair.

Richmond and the fair board continue the challenge of contracting a carnival. Each year it appears to become more difficult with the desirable carnivals being booked during the summer months two and three years ahead.

"We'll try and find something for this year but then I want to plan a year ahead instead of scrambling at the last minute," she said.

Richmond has attended numerous conventions and seminars available to fair organizers to become as informed and educated as possible. She has some ideas she would like to try in the future.

"Some places are doing text messaging contests," she said, with cell phone companies as sponsors.

Another challenge for Richmond and the fair board is the fairgrounds itself. Limited space means limited expansion in the future. Richmond said the Harvey County Commission recently bought 76 acres for new fairgrounds and is planning an indoor arena. An indoor arena may not be in Marion County's future but Richmond wants the fair board to have options.

"For sure the fairgrounds need to stay in a central location like Hillsboro or Marion," she said, and appreciates the working relationship she already has developed with the City of Hillsboro and city administrator Larry Paine.

Even though the fair is in the summer, Richmond said she has been busy since February and plans to spend her off months looking for carnivals and entertainment.

She also is going to look for grants for improvements.

The fair board has made strides in making improvements to the facilities. Last year, the electricity was improved at the beef/dairy barn.

"We'll continue to improve the grounds and find ways to make them safer," she said, citing an incident at another Kansas fair where extension cords were used in a livestock barn, causing some animals to be electrocuted and people injured.

Richmond also challenged her board to become more involved, not only in the planning of the fair but preparation by attending seminars and obtaining additional information.

Participants and attendants can expect to see about the same concession vendors and displays in the commercial building.

Richmond, a Marion County native, was a member of a Marion County 4-H club for 12 years, belonging to Lehigh Willing Workers and Goessel Goal Getters. Her projects included beef, clothing, electricity, foods, public speaking, and veterinary science. She served in numerous club and county 4-H council offices, was a junior leader and project leader.

She earned an associate of science degree in agriculture from Butler Community College and a bachelor of science in animal science from Kansas State University. Richmond served as KSU Collegiate 4-H president her senior year.

In 2006, Richmond was selected as one of 20 participants in the pilot program, YSA (Young Stockman's Academy). She currently serves as the county director.

Richmond is married to former Marion resident Lee Richmond, lives in Newton, and works full-time at Full Vision in the sales department.

Her parents are Arlo and Billie Goossen of rural Hillsboro.

"I'm really looking forward to the fair," she said. "It's like a vacation for me."