A rural Fayette resident is among nine individuals from across Ohio who were honored for outstanding support of local fairs.
Curt Johnson was recognized during ceremonies at the 89th Ohio Fair Managers Association annual convention in Columbus, receiving the Director’s Award for Innovation and Excellence.
Johnson’s passion for the Fulton County Fair is said to be evident to anyone who has come in contact with him. He served as a director on the Fulton County Fair board for 32 years, from 1981 through the 2012 Fair. During his tenure, Johnson continually looked for ways to improve the fair, increase efficiency, and educate more people about agricultural heritage and the important role agriculture has in the community and the nation.
One of his most visible marks on the fair was the development of the annual Agricultural Heritage Display, the first of which was in 2007, in honor of the Fulton County Fair’s 150th anniversary. Located in the southwest corner of the fairgrounds, exhibit themes varied from planting through harvesting, each encompassing more than 100 items on display from hand tools to modern-day machines.
Johnson also looked forward to giving school children, including those from Toledo’s central-city, tours during the fair. He took pleasure in educating children about agriculture and the origin of items found in the grocery store, starting with where milk comes from.
Johnson, a former dairyman, was instrumental in promoting dairy farm education by giving the fair’s milking parlor an accessible, prominent place, and posting a milking schedule so fairgoers could be sure not to miss the action. His other contributions to the fair include an antique tractor display which has well over 100 entries, a tractor maneuverability contest, the Junior Fair straw loading contest, and Curt’s Kid’s Corner box.
Johnson’s enthusiasm for agriculture got a number of farmers involved in the fair. He encouraged them to bring their cows, display their tractors, and join the other friendly competitions at the fair. And over the years, Johnson has produced his own professional-quality video of the fair and the many displays as thank you gifts to those who have participated.
During his tenure as a director, Johnson came up with innovative solutions that include making bleachers mobile by installing casters, and re-engineering current buildings to create much-needed space. He looked at various aspects of the fair for the sole purpose of improving accessibility and enjoyment for fairgoers.
When there’s work to be done at the fairgrounds, Johnson was one of the first to jump in. While no longer officially on the fair board, Johnson answered the call at the 2013 fair to help newer board members navigate all the responsibilities and tasks associated with preparing for the event.
Johnson started showing hogs at the Fulton County Fair when he was a young boy and was involved in FFA and 4-H. He is a member of the Fayette United Methodist Church, Farm Bureau, a Farm Bureau Council and the Agricultural Society. He was also inducted into the Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame.
During the award ceremony in Columbus, Johnson was described this way: “It’s this kind of dedicated service and passionate commitment that enables the Fulton County Fair to continue to grow and improve. Curtis Johnson is the epitome of dedication, passion, and enthusiasm.”