Fair thee well

Some say goodbye, some say hello to fairgrounds

By Jim Bucher

Yes, it is time to say so long to an old friend. A friend that has given me hundreds of hours of entertaining things to do within its cozy confines.

I’m talking about the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on South Main Street.

For 165 years, it’s been home to the fair, of course, but also horse shows, parades, visits by dignitaries such as President Lyndon Johnson, concerts, flower shows, and just about any and every event imaginable.

It was also the site of a welcome home from France parade for our very own Wright Brothers and a refuge for thousands during the great flood of 1913.

But alas, time marches on. The fairgrounds, at one point, were in the country when Dayton was but a fledgling city, but today the grounds are landlocked. A tough call was made to move.

So in 2018, the Montgomery County Fair will be in Jefferson Township at Arthur O. Fisher Park.

On a recent visit there—and this is coming from my opinion as a citizen, not as the PR guy for the fair—it is a wonderful location with lots of room, a lake, and other great amenities.

Look, I know as human beings we like sameness. Change is tough sometimes. It’s in our nature—we love routine. So, with that, the fair will continue, just at a new location.

Most on social media applaud the move.

Bethany writes, “The Montgomery County Fair was my tradition because my youngest son’s birthday would fall right around that time. Took him every year. Now he’s 35 with kids of his own. Even though the dates have changed and it won’t mean the same, we are attending now with my grandkids. And we will follow the fair wherever it goes.”

Robert agrees: “My great aunt would show at the fair (4H animals). She is 95 now and in a health care facility, but we always make sure to bring her an elephant ear. You can see the memories wash over her when we do.”

Trisha has a different memory of the fairgrounds on South Main. “I remember as a child, a long time ago, you could hear the whirring and clanking noise from the old NCR [National Cash Register Company] across the street. The workers would open those big factory windows and gaze out over the fair. Would think, ‘I’d love to go in there and see what they’re doing,’” she says.

Donna writes, “It’s sad because of all the great memories there. There’s so many I can’t count them: rides, games, entertainment, seeing the animals, checking out all the prize-winning cakes, baked goods, flowers, and vegetables in the round house. Just so much fun and something for the entire family.”

The fair isn’t the only event that brings back memories of yore.

“I remember X-Fest there for so many years,” Bobby says. “All the great alternative bands and thousands of people enjoying a great weekend.”

“X-Fest was the bomb,” Regina writes. “We’d stay late then head over to the now demolished Denny’s across the street for a late night, early morning breakfast. Great times.”

Some, though, do not like the change.

“I won’t be attending the new fair. It’s way far out and Labor Day was the tradition. Too bad they had to move it. I may try it and, who knows, may like it,” Tamara says. “Did I just contradict myself? Guess never say never.”

“Think it’s ridiculous they’re moving,” David says. “What will the fair be like not at the original location? Just can’t comprehend that.”

Personally, I remember every opening day for years, when I would meet up with my friend and Dayton Daily News columnist Dale Huffman, who absolutely loved the fair, emceeing many events on the grounds.

Dale had his writer’s notebook, I my Channel 2 camera, searching for a “nugget” of an angle, if you will, for the next day’s paper and that night’s broadcast. We always had success.

Then after wrapping up, we’d head over to Dominic’s Italian Restaurant for a quick meal and an adult beverage, or three. Seemed Dale would always “forget” his wallet, though. Miss him.

Great times, great memories, and now time to make new ones. I know I can’t wait for July 10–15, soaking it all in one final time. My hope is you’ll do the same.

Cheers and see you at the fair!

Buch

For the Dayton City Paper cover story on the Montgomery County Fair, please click here

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Jim Bucher
For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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