Don't Take State Fair Election For Granted

Don't Take State Fair Election For Granted

Director position opens in northwest Indiana.

The release that comes out about state fair director elections is often very short. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture just issued a release last week abut a meeting notice to elect a director in a certain area. The entire body of the release was three lines long. The election is tonight.

What most people don't know is that groups within the counties affected can go to these meetings and vote. What happens instead is that half of the counties typically aren't represented by anyone. Voting is based upon those who show up for the election during the night of the meeting.

Typically, extension groups, Farm Bureaus, soil and water conservation groups, and others within a county can have a vote at the meting to elect the director. Often no one organizes these organizations to send someone to the meeting to vote for the candidate of their choice.

One of the Indiana State Fair Board Directors elected in 2010, Stan Poe, Franklin, was surprised that the process was as matter-of-fact as it is. He was also discouraged by the number of counties who don't bother to have anyone represent them, and by the number of groups within counties that do participate who also pass on taking part in the process.

This particular election happens to be tonight, for District 1. The meeting will be held at 7 pm. EDT (Indianapolis time) at the Jasper County 4-H Community Building in Rensselaer. Counties who will be eligible to have groups participate in the election process include Benton, Carroll, Jasper, Lake, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and White- primarily northwest Indiana.

While you might expect fanfare at these meeting, Poe says that at least in his case, people came and voted, a director was announced, and people left. He would like to see more education about the process, and more groups involved in offering their opinion about who should serve on the State Fair Board as a director.

In the past, would-be directors have campaigned on their strength, saying that if elected, they would be the perfect person for, say, the sheep department because that is their specialty. However, their is no guarantee that someone elected, even though they have experience and strength in one area, will end up in charge of that area, at least not at first.

For example, Poe is part of Poe Hampshires, one of the largest sheep flocks in Indiana.; People assumed they were electing him to be the sheep superintendent for the 2011 state fair. He was an assistant in the building in 2010.  

That's not what happened. Instead, he was assigned to be in charge of the Pepsi Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and assist with events at the fairgrounds using the Coliseum. And a person who raises sheep was in charge of the beef barn.

If you live in one of the counties in District 1, and want an education into how the state fair board election process functions, consider attending tonight's meeting.

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